College Bribery Scandal Heats Up; Co-Chair of NY Law Firm Wilkie Farr Pleads Guilty

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The quad at Harvard University. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Gordan Caplan, the co-chairman of the law-firm Wilkie Farr, said on Friday that he would enter a guilty plea on charges that he paid a large sum of money for his daughter’s ACT test score to be artificially increased so that she may get admitted into an elite university.

“I apologize not only to my family, friends, colleagues and the legal bar but also to students everywhere who have been accepted to college through their own hard work,” Mr. Caplan said in a statement released by his legal team. “The remorse and shame that I feel is more than I can convey.”

Mr. Caplan is just one person caught up in an elite college bribery scandal last month and charged by federal prosecutors in Boston.

Founded in 1888, Willkie Farr is one of New York’s most well-known law firms.

Mr. Caplan was suspended by the law firm last month after prosecutors alleged in a charging document that he paid $75,000 to a non-profit organization linked to William Singer’s infamous college preparatory business — in order to bribe test proctors to correct his daughter’s exam after she finished it.

“I’m not worried about the moral issue here,” Mr. Caplan told Mr. Singer in a phone call recorded by federal investigators. “I’m worried about the … if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”

Mr. Singer said that no one who he accepts bribes and performed services for had ever been caught in his 20-years of doing it and that no one ever will be unless someone told federal investigators.

“She won’t talk,” Mr. Caplan said in one recorded phone call.

“She had no knowledge whatsoever about my actions, has been devastated to learn what I did and has been hurt the most by it,” Mr. Caplan said in a statement. He said that his daughter is a junior in high school and has not yet applied to college.

“Between approximately 2011 and February 2019, Singer allegedly conspired with dozens of parents, athletic coaches, a university athletics administrator, and others, to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of students to colleges and universities including Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University, among others,” the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts said last month in a statement. “Also charged for their involvement in the scheme are 33 parents and 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrators.”