Courtesy of Sam Rubin
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced that they charged nearly 50 people, including celebrities and university coaches, with paying or accepting bribes to help admit applicants to elite universities, including Yale.
In what authorities are touting as the largest admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, prosecutors “charge[d] dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide college admissions cheating and recruitment scheme,” according to United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling in a Tuesday press briefing.
According to unsealed documents, the lawsuit accuses former Yale women’s soccer head coach, Rudy Meredith, who was in charge of the program for 24 years and resigned in November of last year, of “accepting bribes in exchange for designating applicants to Yale as recruits for the Yale women’s soccer team, and thereby facilitating their admission to the university.” Meredith is charged with two counts of wire fraud.
Director of Yale Athletics, Vicky Chun, told the News that “the Department of Justice made clear that Yale has been the victim of a crime. The university has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to moving forward.”
In an email to the Yale community Tuesday afternoon, Yale President Peter Salovey wrote that the University does not “believe that any member of the Yale administration or staff other than [Meredith] knew about the conspiracy.”
Salovey also added that he was committed to “making certain the integrity of the admissions and athletic recruitment processes is not undermined again.” He suggested that “as the investigation unfolds, the university may take further actions.”
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan did not respond to a request for comment.
The alleged bribery scandal centers around a for-profit admissions company based in Newport Beach California. The owner, William “Rick” Singer, allegedly received $25 million in bribes from parents to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and pass money to varsity coaches, according to prosecutors.
In one example of the bribery cited in the documents, Singer agreed to help “facilitate the admission of an applicant to Yale, known in the case as “Yale Applicant 1”, “in or about” November 2017 in exchange for a $1.2 million payment from the applicant’s parents.
Singer allegedly worked with Laura Janke, the once-assistant women’s soccer coach at The University of Southern California, to create a falsified profile to be included in the applicant’s application.
“[C]ould you please create a soccer profiles asap for this girl who will be a midfielder and attending Yale so she has to be very good. Needs to play Academy and no high school soccer….awards and honors — more info to come — need a soccer pic probably Asian girl,” read a Nov. 10, 2017 email from Singer to Janke, according to court documents.
A subsequent email sent by Singer to Janke after Janke had completed the fake profile read: “we are saying she got hurt this past spring, so was not recruited till now as she got her release late summer.”
According to court filings, after the profile was completed, Singer sent the profile to Meredith “despite the fact that , as Meredith knew at the time, [the applicant] did not play competitive soccer.”
When the applicant was admitted to Yale, Singer mailed Meredith a check for $400,000. In the “spring or summer of 2018”, Singer’s client paid Singer approximately $1.2 million dollars in multiple installments, according to court filings.
Meredith also solicited a bribe directly from the father of a second Yale applicant, which the Department of Justice designated as “Yale Applicant 2”. Meredith met with the father in a Boston hotel room, where the FBI had wiretapped the room. At this meeting, “Meredith accepted $2,000 in cash as a partial payment” towards a total of $450,000, the filing said. Meredith then gave information to the father of Yale Applicant 2 about a Connecticut bank account “to which he wanted any future payments to be wired.” Meredith later received an additional payment of $4,000, which was transmitted to the Connecticut bank account via wire transfer. The money came from a bank account in Boston, Massachusetts “that, unbeknownst to Meredith, was under the control of agents of the FBI,” according to the filing.
The special agent in charge of the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, said that this scheme was the product of a “culture of corruption and greed.”
“You can’t lie and cheat to get ahead because you will get caught,” he said.
Nevertheless, Salovey asserted in his communitywide email that the actions of those involved in the scandal do not “detract” from his pride in “the accomplishments and hard work of [Yale’s] student-athletes, athletics program, and admissions staff.”
Singer pled guilty on Tuesday afternoon. Meredith’s initial court appearance is scheduled for March 28.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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