A mother said Thursday that she paid the consultant at the center of the sweeping college admissions bribery scheme $6.5 million after her daughter got into Stanford University because she was led to believe the money would go toward helping underprivileged students.
Massachusetts’ top federal prosecutor said in March that parents shelled out as much as $6.5 million in the scheme, which authorities say involved bribing athletic coaches and rigging standardized test scores. But details about the family that paid the huge sum remained a mystery until this week.
A statement released by a Hong Kong lawyer who says he represents the mother said she gave the money to Rick Singer’s foundation in 2017 after her daughter used his consulting services and got into the school.
The mother said Singer had asked her to make the donation and told her that the money would support academic staff salaries, scholarships, athletic programs and “helping those students who otherwise will not be able to attend Stanford.”
“Since the matters concerning Mr. Singer and his foundation have been widely reported, Mrs. Zhao has come to realize she has been misled, her generosity has been taken advantage of, and her daughter has fallen victim to the scam,” said the statement from Vincent W.C. Law, a partner at Mayer Brown.
The mother is not among the 33 prominent parents who have been charged in the case and it’s unclear whether prosecutors are still investigating the family. Authorities have said they believe more parents were involved in the bribery scheme and have suggested in court documents that more charges are coming.
Stanford said last month that it had expelled a student connected to the bribery scandal who had lied about her sailing credentials in her application. The school said Thursday that it couldn’t confirm whether the student whose family paid $6.5 million is the same student who was expelled.
University officials had previously said the student was admitted without the recommendation of former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer, who pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for helping students get into the elite university.
They said a $500,000 contribution to the sailing program was made several months after the student was admitted.
Stanford said it wasn’t aware of the $6.5 million payment to Singer until it was reported by the media and did not receive that amount of money from Singer or from the family working with Singer.
Prominent parents who have been charged include actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and Loughlin’s fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.
Huffman is among 14 parents who have agreed to plead guilty. She will appear in Boston federal court on May 13 to admit to charges that she paid $15,000 to have a proctor correct the answers on her daughter’s SAT.
Loughlin and Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California, are still fighting the charges. They have pleaded not guilty and have not publicly commented on the allegations.