Sunday, October 17, 2021

‘University Blues’ Mastermind Rick Singer Made $28 Million in Scam, Auditor Says

by Patricia Hurtado | bloomberg

William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind of the “University Blues” college admissions fraud, personally made nearly $28 million from the scheme, a forensic accountant for Gov.

Lauren George detailed the earnings of the disgraced college adviser for the first time Wednesday as a government witness at the trial of two of her former clients. Singer invested some of his money in the Swansea City Football Club in Wales and Sharkey’s chain of West Coast Mexican restaurants, the first ever released court records show.

Private equity executive John Wilson, 62, founder of Hyannis Port Capital, has pleaded not guilty in Boston federal court for bribing Singer to bring his children to USC. (File photo/Charles Krupa, file)

Private equity executive John Wilson, 62, founder of Hyannis Port Capital, and former Wynn Resorts Limited executive Gamal Abdelaziz sued Singer in Boston federal court at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.

George was one of the last witnesses to be called by prosecutors, who quieted his case on Wednesday afternoon. The defense hearing will begin on Friday.

During his testimony, George said that his review of Singer’s personal and business bank accounts showed that he made substantial profits from wealthy parents who were his clients.

“The vast majority came from the parents, about $26 million by the parents,” George said of the money flowing into Singer’s personal accounts. When she announced the case in 2019, the $25 million she detailed was slightly more than then-Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling.

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The singer spent more than $20 million of her own money, some of it in advancing the plan, she said. He paid nearly $7 million to various varsity sports foundations, as well as school officials, teams and coaches, who prosecutors say participated in the fraud. Several of Singer’s clients, including Wilson and Abdelaziz, reportedly paid for their children to be falsely named as athletic recruits.

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Another $6.4 million went into individual business investments and expenses, George said, although he did not say what those were.

She said the bank accounts of Singer’s admissions counseling businesses — Edge College and Career Network & Key — had deposits of more than $43 million and withdrawals of more than $34 million between January 2013 and February 2019. He did not say whether any of that money went into his personal accounts.

Singer agreed to cooperate with America and recorded the parents in secret, later pleading guilty to conspiracy and other charges. He forfeited $3.4 million and several investments as part of his plea. Eventually, more than 50 people were indicted in the case, and 33 of the parents pleaded guilty.

Wilson and Abdelaziz are the first to go to trial in the case. Both parents argue that the payments they made were in the form of legitimate donations, but Singer lied to them about where the money was going or that some money was in their pockets. During cross-examination on Wednesday, lawyers for both men closely questioned George about the money he had received from his clients. His lawyer said Abdelaziz thought that of the $300,000 payments made to Singer, $200,000 were for USC charity, his lawyer said.

Defense lawyers said they plan to call former USC athletic director Pat Haden as their first witness.

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