College exam writer jailed and coach convicted in entrance scam: NPR


Mark Riddle will appear in federal court in Boston on April 12, 2019. The former Florida Pre-School Administrator conducted college entrance exams for students in exchange for money to help wealthy parents send their children to elite universities.

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Mark Riddle will appear in federal court in Boston on April 12, 2019. The former Florida Pre-School Administrator conducted college entrance exams for students in exchange for money to help wealthy parents send their children to elite universities.

Charles Grace / AP

BOSTON – A former Florida prep school administrator has been sentenced to life in prison by a busy jury in Boston federal court on Friday.

Mark Riddle, who was paid well enough to write the college entrance exam for wealthy students, was sentenced to four months in prison, sentenced to two years of supervised release and confiscated approximately $ 240,000.

Meanwhile, former USC coach Joan Vavich, who forged the athletic credentials of wealthy students, was also convicted of three counts of fraud and bribery after facing a jury discussion about a month after the trial.

Rachel Rollins, a U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, said the verdict at Vavich’s trial represents the final sentence in a case of seizure titled “Operation Varsity Blues.”

The investigation, announced in 2019, exposed corruption in the college admissions process in Yale, Stanford and Georgetown, and prosecuted wealthy and related parents, including actors Felicity Huffman, Lori Loglin and Loglin’s fashion designer husband Mosimo Gianni.

“It is an understatement to say that the conduct in this case is reprehensible,” Rollins later said, acknowledging the extensive investigation prior to taking office earlier this year. “The rich, powerful and famous – dripping with status and entitlement – used their money and influence to steal college admissions from more deserving and deserving students.”

Joseph Bonavolonda, head of the FBI’s Boston office, said the investigation had “learned many important lessons” and that colleges would ensure proper security measures were in place.

“First, you can’t afford to play, lie and cheat to bypass the college admissions process,” he said. “Because you will be caught.”


Former University of Southern California water polo coach Joan Wawick will appear in federal court in Boston on March 25, 2019.

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Former University of Southern California water polo coach Joan Wawick will appear in federal court in Boston on March 25, 2019.

Steven Senna / AP

Wawick, 60, who led USC men’s and women’s water polo teams to 16 national championships, walked out of the courtroom with his family on Friday, refusing to comment on the verdict.

Prosecutors said he received a bribe of about $ 250,000 for recruiting unqualified students as water polo recruits, so they could join the Elite School in Los Angeles.

But Vavich’s lawyers argued that he was doing his best to raise money for his championship-winning program, as requested by athletic officials. She said he never lied, never took bribes, and was a victim of USC’s desire to cover up a “widespread culture” of accepting wealthy students who could donate.

The university, which expelled Vavich after his arrest in 2019, stressed that its admissions process was “not on trial”.

Within minutes of reading Vavich’s verdict, Riddle regretted being convicted of fraud and money laundering in a separate courtroom.

The Harvard graduate, who has emerged as a key figure in widespread corruption, has apologized to several students who missed out on college opportunities because of his “terrible decision.”

He said his family had been embarrassed and asked for a waiver for collaborating with law enforcers to make corrections now and move forward with his actions.

Riddle’s lawyers said he should be jailed for one to two months because he is not the head of the scheme or the university insider, like the coaches and college administrators. She added that he had already paid about $ 166,000 in foreclosure liabilities.

Judge Nathaniel Gorton joined the prosecution in arguing for a four-month sentence.

He said Riddle has played a key role in the project over the years, secretly taking ACT and SAT for students or correcting their answers.

“Then why?” The judge said. “You didn’t need the money. How did you get so low?”

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