This month, Netflix released a documentary entitled Operation Varsity Blues. The documentary follows all those involved in the largest ever college admissions fraud case in the USA, focussing on the ring-leader – Rick Singer. Singer helped over 750 families get their children into prestigious US colleges in exchange for hefty ‘donations’ made to his company. Rick and over 50 parents were caught, and many of the parents suffered jail time, fines, and community services. Likewise, many of the applicants had their acceptances revoked, and were shunned. But where is Rick Singer from the college admissions scandal?
How did Singer get applicants into colleges?
As the Netflix docuseries shows, Rick Singer was the CEO of ‘The Key’, and he offered to ‘help’ wealthy students score higher on admission tests. He advertised it as a normal college admissions mentor, which is an entirely normal career in the US. In reality, parents were paying anywhere from $200,000 to several million to get their children accepted into elite institutions. These payments were sent to rick as ‘donations’ to his fake charity: The Key Worldwide Foundation.
Applicants would sit their exams, and then Rick would hire someone to go and change their answers. He would also bribe athletics coaches and directors, in order to get them to admit the student as an athletic recruit – even if the student had never played a sport.
Some applicants’ parents, for example, would provide Rick with images that he could then photoshop to look like the applicants were involved in niche sports which would gain them admission – i.e, water polo, or lacrosse.
Where is Rick Singer now?
Near the time of the trial, in April 2019, Singer sold his large 5 bed home in California for $2.5 million – the house reportedly has a gourmet kitchen, a spa bathroom, butler’s pantry and a fire pit. The funds from the sale were forfeited to the government, as per his plea deal. He then enrolled himself at college, studying towards a psychology degree at Grand Canyon University in Arizona, but dropped out by July 2020. He had finished the equivalent of 5 modules in his time at the college.
Meanwhile, whilst those involved with the scheme have been sentenced, Rick Singer’s sentence hearing is yet to be officially scheduled. This is in part due to his cooperation with the FBI. Singer was involved in helping the agency catch out his customers, by wearing wires, getting them to admit to paying their children into college on the phone or at in-person meetings. He still has to testify in numerous cases, and so won’t be imprisoned until everyone else is sentenced. However, he does face up to 65 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, in addition to 3 year supervised release and a $1.25 million fine.
In the show, Rick’s lawyer, Robert Fisher discusses where Rick’s life will go from here, saying that Singer “will be living with this for a quite a while. If he didn’t cooperate, he would have been convicted already. Right now, he’s out, a free man, and his cooperation won’t be complete until the very last person charged in this conspiracy is sentenced, and that is most likely going to be awhile from now.”