U.S. NEWS
03/12/2019 12:44 EDT | Updated 03/13/2019 11:10 EDT

The High-Powered Names In The College Admissions Bribery Scandal

The scheme involves a slew of wealthy parents, from Hollywood actresses to Wall Street and Silicon Valley executives.

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced dozens of charges related to a massive college admissions bribery scheme, involving big names from Hollywood actresses to Wall Street and Silicon Valley executives. Documents describe a scheme in which wealthy parents paid a company to help their children cheat on college entrance exams or bribe athletic recruiters. Several Division 1 athletic coaches are among the cooperating witnesses in the investigation.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said during a press conference announcing the charges.

Here are some of the high-powered people allegedly involved.

HuffPost Illustration

Gordon Caplan

Caplan, a co-chair at international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, allegedly participated in the cheating scheme, paying $75,000 to Rick Singer, who formed a company that purported “to provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth.” 

Caplan’s firm earned $772 million in revenue in 2017. Last year, American Lawyer magazine named him a “Dealmaker of the Year.”

Singer’s company enabled participants’ children, including Caplan’s daughter, to cheat on the ACT or SAT, by doing things like falsely claiming that their children had learning disabilities to get special accommodations such as extended time. The students then could take the exam “over two days instead of one, and in an individualized setting.”

When administering the test, the company bribed test administrators and hired a third party “to serve as a purported proctor for the exams while providing students with the correct answers, or to review and correct the students’ answers after they completed the exams. In many instances, the students taking the exams were unaware that their parents had arranged for this cheating.”

The company then sent the “doctored exams” back to the testing companies. 

Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez

Manuel Henriquez is the founder and CEO of Hercules Capital, a Silicon Valley investment firm. According to Bloomberg, he earned an estimated $8.2 million in 2017.

The indictment alleges that the couple used the scheme “on four separate occasions” to help their two daughters cheat on the exams. They also participated in Singer’s company’s athletic recruiting scheme, bribing the head coach of tennis at Georgetown University and falsely portraying their elder daughter as a highly ranked high school tennis player.

In reality, the indictment notes that “at her best, she appears to have ranked 207th in Northern California in the under-12 girls division, with an overall win/loss record of 2-8.”

Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Bill McGlashan

Bill McGlashan

McGlashan founded TPG Growth, a private equity firm that has invested in companies such as Spotify, Uber and Airbnb. According to Recode, he “has positioned himself as a leading voice in Silicon Valley for social responsibility,” spearheading a part of the company that focuses on ethical investing called The Rise Fund ― which also counts Bono, Laurene Powell Jobs, Richard Branson, Mellody Hobson and Lynne Benioff among its founders.

McGlashan also co-founded STX Entertainment, known for producing midlevel Hollywood movies, including “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Molly’s Game” and, most recently, the Kevin Hart comedy “The Upside.”

According to the indictment, Singer told McGlashan that his son’s doctor “should come up with stuff, discrepancies, to show why he needs multiple days. That he can’t sit six and a half hours taking one test,” he said in a phone call, while wearing a wire to cooperate with federal investigators.

“Perfect,” McGlashan replied, according to the transcript of the call.

McGlashan also participated in the scheme to help his son get accepted to the University of Southern California as a recruited athlete.

“I’ll pick a sport and we’ll do a picture of him, or he can, we’ll put his face on the picture whatever. Just so that he plays whatever,” Singer said.

“Well, we have images of him in lacrosse. I don’t know if that matters,” McGlashan replied.

“They don’t have a lacrosse team. But as long as I can see him doing
something, that would be fine,” Singer said.

Later, they settled on falsely portraying McGlashan’s son as a football punter, with McGlashan providing a photo of an NFL player for the company to alter.

“That’s just totally hilarious,” McGlashan said.

A TPG spokesman said Tuesday evening that McGlashan has been placed on “indefinite administrative leave effective immediately.”

Boston Globe via Getty Images
Gamal Abdelaziz

Gamal Abdelaziz

A hotel and casino mogul, Abdelaziz worked as a senior executive for MGM Resorts. From 2013 to 2016, he oversaw the Macau division of Wynn Resorts, founded by Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn (who stepped down in 2018 after sexual harassment allegations).

The federal investigators allege that Abdelaziz tried to get his daughter recruited as a star basketball player for admission at USC, working with Singer to create a profile containing “falsified honors” like “Asia Pacific Activities Conference All Star Team,” “2016 China Cup Champions,” “Hong Kong Academy team MVP” and “Team Captain.” 

Abdelaziz allegedly paid Singer’s company $300,000 as a fake charitable donation. Through Singer, he arranged to bribe USC’s senior associate athletic director, Donna Heinel, with Singer and Heinel concealing the money as a gift to the school’s basketball arena, according to the indictment. 

Agustin Huneeus Jr.

Huneeus is a winemaker, running a string of vineyards and wine brands in California’s Napa Valley and in Oregon.

Huneeus allegedly enlisted Singer’s help in both the entrance exams and athletic recruiting scheme. Singer got a psychologist to authorize extra time for Huneeus’ daughter to take the SAT, DOJ documents show.

Through Singer, Huneeus also allegedly bribed USC to allow his daughter to be recruited as a water polo player, concealing the payment as a donation to the “USC Women’s Athletics Board.” 

According to the indictment, he suspected that McGlashan, whose son attended the same high school as Huneeus’ daughter, was also conspiring with Singer and his company.

“He makes me feel guilty,” Hunneus told Singer, according to a transcript of a phone call. “But he didn’t know ― his kid had no idea and he didn’t have any idea that you helped him on the ACT, or the test you took.”

Bruce and Davina Isackson

Bruce Isackson is the president of a Silicon Valley real estate development company, WP Investments. Prior to that, he worked at Cushman & Wakefield, a major commercial real estate firm.

The couple allegedly tried to get both of their daughters into college by faking athletic profiles and test scores. Their elder daughter was accepted to UCLA as a fake soccer recruit and their younger daughter was accepted to USC as a rower, “even though she was not competitive in rowing, but instead was an avid equestrian,” the indictment reads.

After Singer informed Bruce Isackson that the company was being audited, Isackson worried that it would become a “front page story” and an “embarrassment to everyone in the communities.”

Robert Zangrillo

A Miami-based private investment CEO whose company has invested in Dick’s Sporting Goods, Facebook, Twitter and Uber, Zangrillo allegedly bribed USC athletic officials with Singer’s help. He also arranged for Singer’s employee Mikaela Sanford to “secretly take classes on behalf of his daughter, so that the grades Sanford earned in Zangrillo’s daughter’s name could be submitted to USC as part of her application,” according to the indictment.

After first being rejected, Zangrillo’s daughter submitted a new application, purporting to be a competitive rower and falsely claiming that she was already taking college classes to boost her academic credentials, after receiving an F in a class.

Zangrillo’s daughter was ultimately accepted to USC through “our VIP list for transfers,” Heinel told Singer, according to the indictment.

John B. Wilson

Wilson, a private equity consultant and an adviser at McKinsey & Co., previously held executive positions at a number of high-profile companies, including Staples, Gap, Northwest Airlines and Bain & Co., according to his website.

He is accused of attempting bribes to get his son and two daughters into USC, Stanford and Harvard, respectively.

“Obviously his skill level may be below the other freshmen. In your view will he be so weak as to be a clear misfit at practice etc?” Wilson said to Singer in a 2013 email, while Singer arranged ways to falsify Wilson’s son’s water polo experience.

Singer assured Wilson that his son would not have to actually play water polo if admitted.

“Frankly after the 1st semester he can move on,” Singer replied in an email. Sure enough, Wilson’s son, admitted to USC as a water polo recruit, withdrew from the team after his first semester.

Wilson asked Singer to list the payment as “business consulting fees,” allowing Wilson to expense the bribe “from the corporate account,” according to an email in the indictment.

He later pursued the scheme for his two daughters as well, attempting to secure spots for them at Stanford and Harvard. Unbeknownst to Wilson, Singer by then was cooperating with federal investigators.

In an October 2018 phone call, Singer informed him that Stanford’s sailing coach could get a spot for one of his daughters but not the other “because he has to actually recruit some real sailors so that Stanford doesn’t catch on.”

Elisabeth Kimmel

Kimmel — the president of Midwest Television, founded by her father, which operates TV and radio stations in San Diego — allegedly arranged bribes for both her daughter and son to get into Georgetown and USC, respectively, as fake athletic recruits.

According to the indictment, she paid Singer’s company using a check from her family’s foundation, where she is on the board. The foundation then wrote it off on its tax return as a charitable donation.

While attempting to get her son into USC as a pole vaulter, Singer’s company altered a photo of a pole vaulter with her son’s face.

Her son had no idea that he had been recruited as part of the scheme. At his orientation in 2018, an adviser asked about his status as “a track athlete” and he replied that he was not.

“We have to hope this advisor doesn’t start poking around,” Kimmel said.

As of January, her son “is still in the dark,” she said, according to the indictment.

Kevork Djansezian/NBC via Getty Images
Felicity Huffman

Felicity Huffman

The indictment alleges that the actress and her husband, actor William H. Macy, who was not charged Tuesday, paid $15,000 to the fake charity to enable their elder daughter to cheat on the SAT. They later began making the arrangement for their younger daughter “but ultimately decided not to.”

Donato Sardella via Getty Images
Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin

Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli

The “Full House” actress and fashion designer allegedly participated in the scheme involving fake athletic recruiting. According to the indictment, the couple paid $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California by having them “designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew.”

As part of this, the company created a fake profile of their younger daughter that “would present [her] falsely, as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team. The couple sent an “Action Picture” of her on an ergometer to create the appearance that she was a rower.

This story has been updated with additional details and names.