AP NEWS

Accused test taker in college scandal plans to plead guilty

April 7, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida prep school administrator accused of taking college admissions tests for students as part of a nationwide scheme in which wealthy parents bribed school officials for college entrance or arranged rigged entrance exams will change his plea to guilty, according to documents filed in federal court in Boston.

Mark Riddell, 36, plans to plead guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and a count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to an agreement filed late last month.

He has a hearing in federal court in Boston next Friday and it will be up to a judge to decide whether to accept the agreement.

Riddell could have faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the agreement, prosecutors are recommending incarceration and a fine at the “low end” of guidelines. Riddell will have to forfeit almost $240,000 that he earned from the scheme.

Among dozens of others charged in the scandal were actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, Loughlin’s husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, college sports coaches, athletic administrators and CEOs.

Riddell was director of college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy, which bills itself as the world’s largest sports academy. The school on Florida’s Gulf Coast was founded by renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that the academy has fired Riddell, a Harvard graduate. A spokesman for the school didn’t return an email inquiry Sunday.

According to federal prosecutors, Riddell secretly took college entrance exams for students or replaced students’ answers with his own in an arrangement hatched by William “Rick” Singer, an admissions consultant accused of orchestrating the scheme for years while catering to a rich clientele that included Hollywood stars and business executives.

Riddell typically was paid $10,000 per test, and he was often able to calibrate a desired score for the test, prosecutors said.

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Information from: Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com