Operation Varsity Blues: 2nd parent intends to plead guilty to college admissions scheme charges

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Friday, April 5, 2019
Operation Varsity Blues: 2nd parent intends to plead guilty
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A second parent in the college admissions scheme says he will plead guilty.

BOSTON, Mass. (KGO) -- A second parent in the college admissions scheme says he will plead guilty.

Attorney Gordon Caplan of Connecticut and New York says he takes full and sole responsibility for his conduct and is deeply ashamed of his behavior and actions.

LIST: These Bay Area residents have been charged in alleged college admissions scam

According to the criminal complaint, Caplan paid Rick Singer's bogus charity $75,000 for proctor Mark Riddell to correct his daughter's ACT answers after she took the exam at a test center Singer controlled in West Hollywood.

Caplan released the following statement Friday:

"I take full and sole responsibility for my conduct and I am deeply ashamed of my behavior and my actions. 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. I want to make clear that my daughter, whom I love more than anything in the world, is a high school junior and has not yet applied to college, much less been accepted by any school. She had no knowledge whatsoever about my actions, has been devastated to learn what I did and has been hurt the most by it.

My immediate goal is to focus on making amends for my actions to try to win back the trust and respect of my daughter, my family, and my community. The remorse and shame that I feel is more than I can convey.

I intend to enter a guilty plea on the criminal charge brought against me in the Varsity Blues college admissions investigation and dedicate myself to trying to right this wrong."

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Shortly after, Caplan's employer announced he is no longer with the firm. They released the following statement:

"Gordon Caplan is no longer a partner of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.

Mr. Caplan's departure is a result of his involvement in the college admissions matter and his recent statement regarding his intent to plea to a criminal charge.

At Willkie, nothing is more important to us than our integrity and we do not tolerate behavior that runs contrary to our core values. We remain focused on our responsibilities to our clients, partners and employees."

American Lawyer named Caplan "Dealmaker of the Year" in 2018. According to the criminal complaint, in wiretapped conversations, Singer said, "..I also need to tell (your daughter) when she gets tested, to be as, to be stupid, not to be as smart as she is. The goal is to be slow, to be not as bright, all that, so we show discrepancies."

Singer: "... all the wealthy families that figured out that if I get my kid tested and they get extended time, they can do better on the test. So most of these kids don't even have issues, but they're getting time. The playing field is not fair."

Caplan: "No, it's not. I mean this is, to be honest, it feels a little weird..."

Singer: "... I know it does. But when she gets the score and we have choices, you're gonna be saying, okay, I'll take all my kids, we're gonna do the same thing. (laughing)"

Caplan: "Yeah, I will."

Caught later discussing his concerns about a plan to have one of Singer's employees take high school classes for his daughter to boost her grades:

Caplan: "...to be honest, I'm not worried about the moral issue here. I'm worried about the, if she's caught doing that, you know, she's finished."

Caplan is the second parent to say he intends to plead guilty. Earlier this week, Peter Sartorio's attorney asked to continue his court appearance to April 30, writing that he "... intends to plead guilty to an Information that the government has advised it will file prior to April 30, 2019. The government has advised defense counsel that it takes no position on this Motion."

It's not clear what Sartorio of Menlo Park will plead guilty to. He's currently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Honest Services Mail Fraud. Sartorio was the first Bay Area parent in the college admissions scandal to say he intends to plead guilty. According to the criminal complaint, the packaged food entrepreneur paid $15,000 in cash for the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter.

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