March 16, 2019

USA: Celebrities, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Coaches Are Among Four Dozens Arrested And Indicted In A Massive College Admission Scheme. Scandal Involves Racketeering, Bribery, Fraud, Cheating.

Washington Examiner 3/14/19: Actress Lori Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli was spending her spring break on a yacht of a top University of Southern California official Tuesday evening, the same day Loughlin was charged in a college admissions bribery scandal.

According to TMZ, Giannulli was on the chairman of USC's Board of Trustees’ yacht in the Bahamas for spring break on Tuesday night, but has since departed in light of the investigation. The chairman, Rick Caruso, said Giannulli was on the yacht with his daughter Gianna and several other friends.

"My daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior to the government's announcement yesterday,” Caruso told TMZ. “Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home."

"The charges filed today against employees of USC are disturbing and the alleged activity is absolutely wrong,” Caruso said. “I am saddened that these people would abuse their positions of trust and, as the government has alleged, victimize USC in the process. There is no option other than zero tolerance for this type of behavior. As a result, USC has fired the alleged wrongdoers."
Page Six 3/15/19: In a March 8 interview with the “Zach Sang Show,” Olivia Jade, 19, revealed that she looks to her dad, who launched the fashion line Mossimo, for “inspiration.”

“He didn’t come from a lot, so it’s cool to see that he built it all himself,” the influencer shared. “He, like, built his whole entire brand and he wasn’t actually, like, I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, ever enrolled in college.”

“But he, like, faked his way through it and then he started his whole business with tuition money that his parents thought was going to college,” she said. “That’s, like, such a different time. I don’t know if I was supposed to say that, but it’s OK.”

She also revealed that her parents had pushed her into attending the University of Southern California because neither of them had attended higher education.

Court documents unveiled earlier this week state that Loughlin and Giannulli “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC.”

The Los Angeles Times
written by Matthew Ormseth
Tuesday March 12, 2019

The self-described “master coach” warned parents that in the scrabble for a spot at an elite university, their children would hardly stand out without his help. He spoke of a “side door” to top schools he could wrench open to the “wealthiest families in the U.S.” He promised their children nothing short of “a life of success.”

William “Rick” Singer made his name — and, prosecutors say, a fraudulent fortune — by peddling a bleak view of the college admissions process, one he portrayed as a minefield where one “small oversight or mistake … can make all the difference in your son or daughter gaining admission to the school of their dreams,” as he wrote on the book jacket of his guide to applying to college.

Now, the Newport Beach businessman stands at the heart of a scandal that has ensnared Hollywood actresses, chief executives and a fashion designer — what U.S. Atty. Andrew E. Lelling called “a catalog of wealth and privilege” — along with coaches and officials at some of the country’s preeminent schools.

Singer, 58, on Tuesday pleaded guilty in Boston to charges of fraud, racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Using a charity registered at his six-bathroom, $1.5-million Newport Beach home, Singer was paid $25 million by parents who, believing their children lacked the grades and test scores to get into elite universities, turned to a reputed college admissions guru who bragged of helping shuttle more than 700 students a year into top schools through “the side door,” according to prosecutors.

The charity said in tax documents that it helped underserved Oakland schoolchildren and “needy Cambodians.” Prosecutors allege the nonprofit was actually a sham Singer used to launder money and funnel bribes to suborned coaches and university officials.

Singer began cooperating with the government in September 2018 and wore an FBI wire in hopes of getting a reduced sentence, prosecutors said. But not long after agreeing to cooperate, Singer tipped off several parents who were being investigated, according to court filings. For that, he has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice.

If Singer’s website is to be believed, he amassed a college preparation empire called “The Key,” with footholds in 81 American cities and five foreign countries. At least a decade ago, his website said, Singer left the college admissions business to lead several call center companies, including one in India, before returning to “The Key” to develop an online high school curriculum.

“Being a father and coach, I’ve seen the stress that the college admissions process can put on a family,” his biography says.

Singer was employed from 1987 to 1988 as a temporary teacher by the San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento County, a district spokeswoman said. The Sacramento Bee reported he was fired from his job as basketball coach of Encina High School because of a “personnel matter.”

He co-wrote at least two books about the college admissions process: “Getting In” and “Getting In: Personal Brands.” His coauthor, Rebekah Hendershot, declined to comment.

One reviewer on Amazon called Singer “the college whisperer,” saying he had “singularly helped our family get into five different colleges.”

“Allow Rick Singer to wave his magic pixy dust all over your life,” she wrote. “You will be changed for the better.”

Singer’s charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, says in tax documents its stated mission is “to provide education that would normally be unattainable to underprivileged students.” In truth, the children Singer helped were decidedly privileged, according to court filings.

A Bay Area couple gave the charity 2,150 shares in Facebook and donated to UCLA before writing off more than $1 million in charitable gifts on their taxes, according to a court filing. Singer had guaranteed their daughter a spot at UCLA. The couple were among those indicted.

The charity’s mission statement references one of Singer’s key strategies: “Our contributions to major athletic university programs may help to provide placement to students that may not have access under normal channels.”

Singer used some of the money from parents to bribe coaches and university officials, who in turn helped him misrepresent his clients’ children as recruited athletes, prosecutors allege in the court filings. Current and former coaches at Yale, USC, UCLA, Stanford and other top schools have also been charged with fraud and conspiracy.

Singer’s charity in 2016 paid $825,000 for “consulting” to Gordon Ernst, the former tennis coach at Georgetown University and current coach at the University of Rhode Island, according to the charity’s financial records. Ernst has been charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Over time, revenues to the charity swelled. In 2013, its first year of recognition by the Internal Revenue Service, it collected $451,000 in “gifts, grants, contributions and membership fees,” according to tax documents. In 2016, the most recent year for which documents are publicly available, it took in $7 million. Singer, its president and CEO, said in tax documents he drew no salary.

Its treasurer, Steven Masera, has been charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Masera could not be reached Tuesday and it was unclear whether he had a lawyer.

Singer also admitted Tuesday to engineering another college admissions scheme in which parents would pay him $15,000 to $75,000 to rig tests such as the SAT and ACT. Singer would either pay someone to take the tests in their child’s stead or have a bribed proctor change the answers, according to court filings.

Singer was caught on a wiretap telling a parent it was “funny” when students believed they had scored higher themselves, saying, “They just have no idea that they didn’t even get the score that they thought they got.”

At another point, Singer was heard describing the scheme as “the home run of home runs.”

Under his plea agreement, Singer will forfeit his charity’s investments in Swansea Football Club, a chain of fast-casual Mexican restaurants, a Texas data company, a Santa Monica private equity fund and an Oakland basketball facility. He will also give up two bank accounts held by the charity and pay a $3.4-million forfeiture judgment.

In Singer’s Newport Beach neighborhood, neighbors were shocked by the allegations.

Caren Darrow said Singer was generous and kind. While he encouraged her son Levi, a basketball player at Newport Harbor High School, to work hard, Singer never pushed his business on him, she said.

"We are shocked at the allegations, but I want to say innocent until proven guilty,” Darrow said.

Rick Singer has done this racket for 800 parents. So this is just the tip of the iceberg with this first batch of elite criminals charged.

All I have to say is that I worked my butt off to earn my bachelor's degree in Business Administration Finance. It took me ten years to earn my bachelor's degree. I went to school part-time while working for Wall Street firms in an insane industry full-time. I did attend Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) for 7 years part-time in my 20's to complete my lower division classes and earned an Associates degree in Liberal Arts there. I then transferred to California State University, Northridge (CSUN). I attended a couple years at CSUN, but their school was highly impacted at the time so I decided to transfer. I was admitted into California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) in 2003. I was so excited to find out CSULA was on the quarter system, but bummed they required I take 3 additional classes in diversity added to the curriculum. I attended my senior year at CSULA full-time and finished in one full year. My senior year is a blur because I breathed, ate, slept my studies. But pushing myself that final year was such an incredibly gratifying feeling. I'll never forget the day I received my bachelor's degree in the mail. I opened the package, cried a while, put everything back in the package and put it away for safekeeping. I didn't do this to brag about it. It was a personal achievement and no one could ever take this away from me. I know I made my grandmother proud. I was the first grandchild in my family to earn a bachelor's degree. I give God thanks for seeing me through the struggle of it all. CSULA class of 2004 Alumni.

I'm very fortunate to have had amazing professors at all three schools for higher learning.

I would like to add that earning my bachelor's degree was a bittersweet experience for me. On the one hand I was elated to finally finish school after 10 painstaking years. But on the other hand I lost my securities licenses I also worked extremely hard to earn. I didn't finish in the 2 year window allowed to keep our securities licenses inactive. It was heartbreaking to lose my securities licenses I studied my butt off for 6 months while working full-time in an insane environment. I was 24 when I passed the Series 7 Exam with 86%, top 3% of the nation when many people would fail taking the exam the first time. (emphasis mine)

California State University, Los Angeles continues to climb in the national rankings and is once again one of the nation’s best regional universities, according to U.S. News & World Report in its just released Best Colleges 2019 guidebook.

The publication ranks Cal State LA #13 among the top public regional universities in the West, up two spots from last year’s ranking.

Among both public and private universities with undergraduate and master's programs, Cal State LA ranked #52 among western universities, moving up from #59 a year earlier.

“Our continued ascent in the national rankings is good news for the Cal State LA community and for all of Los Angeles,” said Cal State LA President William A. Covino. “Cal State LA graduates work, serve, and lead in communities throughout our region. We are LA—and we make LA stronger.”

Two Cal State LA programs were noted as among the nation’s best undergraduate programs. Both have been included in the magazine’s rankings for two decades. The engineering program in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology is one of the top 10 in the nation among public, master’s awarding institutions, excluding military academies. The business program in the College of Business and Economics continues to be one of the top 10 in California among public institutions.

“Our support of entrepreneurship and innovation in Los Angeles is producing industry leaders in healthcare, finance, technology, biosciences, and arts and entertainment,” said Jose A. Gomez, executive vice president for Cal State LA. “Cal State LA is ranked number one in the nation for the upward mobility of our graduates.”

In a separate listing, U.S. News recognized Cal State LA for its affordability, ranking among the top 10 in the West for graduates with the least debt. Cal State LA is also listed as one of the top 50 Best Value Schools and among the Best Colleges for Veterans.

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