Four Stanford affiliates, along with 11 Bay Area parents, have been charged for their participation in a national college admissions cheating scandal involving at least 50 Hollywood celebrities, prominent business leaders and college coaches — including Stanford’s head sailing coach John Vandemoer, who was fired after pleading guilty to accepting $270,000 in bribes for the sailing program on Tuesday.
The scandal involved two main ploys. The first consisted of a college entrance exam cheating scheme, wherein students were provided undue extra time on the SAT and ACT, and student test answers were fraudulently corrected. The second involved athletics recruitment, wherein some parents paid more than $500,000 in bribes to college coaches to designate their children as athletic recruits in order to facilitate their acceptance into competitive universities including Stanford, Yale, the University of Southern California (USC), Wake Forest and others.
Central to these crimes was William Rick Singer, founder of a college preparatory business called the Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key. Singer, who pleaded guilty to numerous charges on Tuesday, leveraged The Key and its associated nonprofit Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) to process the bribes and facilitate the cheating.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 32 individuals were charged with “conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud,” which describes any fraudulent artifices or schemes intended to deprive another of honest services and has been increasingly interpreted by prosecutors to refer to “any dishonesty or lack of integrity” in situations that citizens engage in on a daily basis.
William McGlashan Jr. M.B.A ’90, Mill Valley
McGlashan, founder of private investment firm TPG Growth, is one of many Bay Area parents charged in the imploding college admissions scandal revealed Tuesday morning. McGlashan — one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors and a Stanford Graduate School of Business alum — allegedly conspired with Singer to pay bribes amounting to $50,000 to college entrance exam administrators in order to facilitate cheating on the ACT for his son.
The total payment McGlashan made to the fake charity is believed to be upwards of $250,000. TPG Growth placed McGlashan on “indefinite administrative leave effective immediately,” and has replaced him temporarily with TPG Growth co-founder and billionaire Jim Coulter.
McGlashan’s son received a fraudulent score of 34 out of 36 on the exam, allegedly as a result of the proctor correcting his answers after the exam. The false score put him in the 99th percentile of ACT test takers.
Court documents indicate that in many cases, the students taking the exams were unaware of the arranged cheating; for instance, the FBI affidavit reads that McGlashan’s son “had no idea … that [a cooperating witness believed to be Singer] helped him on the ACT.”
The documents further relay conversations wherein McGlashan discusses the potential of using the athletics “side door scheme” with regards to both USC and Stanford. He also discusses using the scheme to benefit his two younger children as well.
“Pretty funny,” McGlashan stated in a recorded phone conversation, in response to the idea of Photoshopping a photo of his son to make him look like a kicker. “The way the world works these days is unbelievable.”
McGlashan is a leading voice in Silicon Valley for ethical investing as the founder of The Rise Fund, the largest social impact investment fund. The Rise Fund invests in ventures including K-8 education technology in the U.S., wildfire protection in Botswana and solar power in India.
Elisabeth Kimmel ’86, of Nevada
After spending more than $450,000 in exchange for recruitment of her two children as athletes at elite colleges, Kimmel — who studied history at Stanford and currently owns Midwest Television, Inc. — faces charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Kimmel’s daughter was admitted to Georgetown as a purported tennis recruit in 2013, and graduated in 2017 having never been on the school’s tennis team. Kimmel’s son was admitted to USC as a purported track recruit in 2018.
In her daughter’s application to Georgetown, Kimmel wrote that the student participated in the Southern California Junior Tennis program throughout high school and was a “ranked player,” though the U.S. Tennis Association — which operates the program — has no record of her daughter’s participation.
Singer funneled a total of $244,000 in monthly installments to Georgetown tennis coach Ernst through The Key and later KWF between around September 2012 and September 2013. Meanwhile, Kimmel paid $275,000 in monthly payments to KWF through the Meyer Charitable Foundation, where she is an officer.
Singer also coordinated the manufacture of a fake athlete profile for Kimmel’s son, whose application to USC contained lies added by Kimmel regarding the student’s athletic history. USC Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Heinel presented Kimmel’s son to the college’s admissions as a track and field recruit for the pole vault. The fake profile includes a purported image of Kimmel’s son pole vaulting, though Kimmel is not the person in the photo.
When reviewing her son’s USC application prior to submission, Kimmel added the designation of pole vaulter to her son’s application, presenting him as a “three year Varsity Letterman” in track and field and “one of the top pole vaulters in the state of California.”
About one month before her son’s acceptance to USC, Kimmel signed a check for $200,000 from the Meyer Charitable Foundation to KWF.
Kimmel and her spouse called Singer after their son’s orientation to note that their son’s advisor at USC asked him about his track career, confusing the student — who had no idea he was admitted as a recruited athlete.
“I would say that if they do ask you, which I doubt they will, that [your son] had an injury over the summer, to his shoulder, and so he stopped vaulting,” Singer said in the call, which Kimmel made to note that her son was “still in the dark” on why he was accepted to USC.
Robert Zangrillo M.B.A. ’94, of Miami Beach
Zangrillo is the founder and CEO of a Miami-based firm that focuses on venture capital and real estate investments. Zangrillo allegedly conspired with Singer to bribe athletics officials at USC to fraudulently designate his daughter as an athletic recruit. He also paid an employee of Singer to take classes on his daughter’s behalf. These bogus grades were submitted as part of her college application.
While Zangrillo’s daughter was initially rejected by USC, he went on to continue to conspire with Singer in order to concoct a new scheme that would allow his daughter to transfer to USC as a rowing recruit. Although her previous application showed no indication of rowing prowess or accolades, her transfer application — submitted to USC on Feb. 1, 2018 — falsely stated that she rowed crew at a club 44 hours per week, 15 weeks out of the year.
According to court documents, the USC crew coach agreed to facilitate Zangrillo’s daughter’s acceptance, provided that KFW pay the crew program.
“Okay, I will take her,” the coach allegedly told the cooperating witness, as recorded in the affidavit. “You guys help us, we’ll help you.”
The documents reveal that Donna Heinel, senior associate athletic director at USC, ultimately did not advocate for Zangrillo’s daughter to admissions department as an athletics recruit, but instead placed her on a “VIP list for transfers.”
In total, Zangrillo wired $200,000 to KFW’s fraudulent charity accounts and also mailed a check of $50,000 to “USC Women’s Athletics.”
Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez, of Atherton
The Henriquezes participated in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on four separate occasions for their two daughters — once in the fall of 2015 and another time in the fall of 2016. Manuel currently serves as the vice-chair of the Lucille Packard Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Foundation “works in alignment with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and the child health programs of Stanford University,” its website states.
For the Henriquezes’ older daughter, who attended a private college preparatory school in Belmont, California, the couple arranged for an unidentified confidential witness to proctor the exam at the Belmont location. The proctor sat beside the daughter during the exam and fed her answers. The Henriquezes wired $15,000 to Singer’s personal bank account and $10,000 to an account in the name of The Key, referring to KWF.
In subsequent instances for the younger Henriquez daughter, Singer and KWF assisted in ACT cheating schemes and also falsified the daughter’s tennis achievements. The Henriquez Family Trust made a contribution totaling an upwards of $400,000 to KWF in May 2016 in a “gift” transaction falsely reported to have involved no exchange of any goods or services.
Amy and Gregory Colburn, of Palo Alto
The Colburns participated in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of their son, paying $24,443.50 and $547.45 to KWF under the guise of a “charitable donation.”
KWF proceeded to pay $20,000 each to Igor Dvorskiy, a test administrator at the West Hollywood Test Center who “agreed to accept bribes” to aid the scheme at the Los Angeles location, and to the second unidentified confidential witness who served as the proctor.
Agustin Huneeus Jr., of San Francisco
Huneeus participated in both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the college recruitment scheme for his daughter to facilitate her admission to the University of Southern California (USC) as a supposed water polo recruit. For this, Huneeus allegedly contributed $50,000 to KWF. Singer, who told Huneeus that he “controlled” the West Hollywood Test Center, arranged for an unidentified confidential witness to proctor the SAT exam and correct the daughter’s answers after she completed the exam.
Marjorie Klapper, of Menlo Park
Klapper has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for her role in securing undue extra time for her son to take the ACT college entrance exam in exchange for a $15,000 bribe paid to KWF under the guise of a charitable contribution.
Marci Palatella, of Hillsborough
Palatella conspired to pay over $400,000 to the Key foundation and $100,000 in bribes to USC’s senior associate athletic director to make her son a football recruit and aid his admission as an undergraduate there. In 2016, Singer arranged for a psychologist to evaluate Palatella’s son and provide medical documentation necessary to qualify for extra time on the SAT. Palatella was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Peter Jan Sartorio, of Menlo Park
Sartorio participated in the college entrance exam cheating scheme by paying Singer $15,000 in three separate transactions of cash in June 2017 to have another confidential witness proctor the ACT exam for Sartorio’s daughter and correct her exam answers.
Todd and Diane Blake, of Ross
Todd Blake, entrepreneur and investor, and his wife Diane Blake, a retail merchandising firm executive, allegedly paid to get their daughter into the University of Southern California as a volleyball recruit. The couple paid $200,000 to KWF and $50,000 to the University of Southern California Women’s Athletics department. The Key Foundation allegedly falsified volleyball honors and indicated that she had played on a team that qualified for club nationals. USC Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Heinel then allegedly used the fabricated records to present the student as a recruit.