The FBI and federal prosecutors say they are charging nearly 50 people in the largest college cheating scandal ever. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at least 33 parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, super-rich CEOs and two SAT or ACT exam administrators, and nine coaches at elite schools, are among those facing charges in what's being dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues."
California businessman William "Rick" Singer was named as the ringleader of the operation, and he was charged with multiple conspiracy counts. He pleaded guilty to those charges on Tuesday. Federal officials say he collected $25-million in bribes. Beyond the SAT and ACT scam, prosecutors say parents paid Singer the money that he then used to bribe coaches and administrators to designate their children as recruited athletes for schools. Parents allegedly paid Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 to have someone either take the exam for the children of clients or to correct the child's answers after the test was completed.
Singer's online biography says he owned and operated businesses the Edge College & Career Network LLC, a for-profit college counseling and preparation business that is better known at The Key An address of 265 Hartnell Place is listed for The Key offices in Sacramento. Prosecutors say Singer also served as the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation, which was a nonprofit corporation based in Newport Beach, California, that he established and claimed was a charity.
In 1992, Singer started Future Stars College & Career Counseling in Sacramento to help parents and their children navigate the process of apply for admission to colleges. Reportedly Singer eventually sold Future Stars to a competitor and went work as a recruitment and training manager for a West Sacramento company doing business as The Money Store.
Many people in Sacramento will remember that in the early 1990s Singer was an assistant coach for the men's basketball program at Sac State University.
The crimes are said to have taken place between approximately 2011 and February of 2019, according the the just released indictment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors say Singer conspired with dozens of parents, including actresses Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman; athletic coaches; a university athletics administrator; and others, "to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of students to colleges and universities including Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University, among others." 33 parents, 13 coaches, and associates of Singer's businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrators, are also facing charges in the case.
So far, two other Sacramento-area residents have been identified among the dozens of people named in the indictment. They have also been charged in the Eastern District of California.
Arrested were Steven Masera, 69, of Folsom, according to the charging documents. Masera is said to have worked as an accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network, LLC and the Key Worldwide Foundation, in Newport Beach up to December 2017.
Another Folsom resident, Mikaela Sanford, 32, was also arrested. Sanford was employed in various capacities for The Key.