CNN: Fifty people — from Hollywood stars and top industry CEOs to college coaches and standardized test administrators — stand accused of participating in a scheme to cheat on admissions tests and admit students to leading institutions as athletes regardless of their abilities, prosecutors revealed Tuesday in a federal indictment. The scandal is being called the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted. U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling described the parents as comprising “a catalog of wealth and privilege,” for whom the leg-up in admissions won by their money and connections was not enough. Still hanging in the balance is the fate of the privileged scholars, at least some of whom may not have known about their parents’ alleged acts. It was no accident that none were immediately charged, US Attorney Andrew Lelling of Massachusetts said Tuesday. ‘The prime movers of this fraud’ were the parents and other defendants, Lelling said, though he noted some students may face charges down the road.
Me: CNN calls the students “scholars.” Really, is that how low the bar is for scholars?
CNN: There were dual avenues for carrying out the scheme, Lelling explained.”There were essentially two kinds of fraud that Singer was selling,” Lelling said of the accusations, which run from 2011 to 2019. “One was to cheat on the SAT or ACT, and the other was to use his connections with Division I coaches and use bribes to get these parents’ kids into school with fake athletic credentials.”For example, Singer and his co-conspirators used photo-editing technology to superimpose the face of a patron’s student onto stock photos of athletes, prosecutors said.
Me: Is it credible to say “at least some of whom may not have known about their parents’ alleged acts.” Let’s see, much of the cheating on the entrance tests involved a professional proctor sitting right next to the student taking the test, correcting answers as they went. Whom did the students think that person was, their imaginary guardian angel? For the cases of cheating that didn’t involve a proctor, to what did the students attribute the huge increase in their test scores? The diligent studying they probably didn’t do, dumb luck, God’s love? Even more credulous to me is the fake athletic credentials. Don’t students get to see the information in their own entrance file? Were they playing soccer, tennis or sailing in their sleep?
The Daily Beast: “They chose to corrupt and illegally manipulate the system,’’ Lelling said at a press conference on Tuesday. “There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy.”
Me: Andrew, really, you think there hasn’t been double standards for the wealthy previously? Be that as it may, the notable exception–so far–to 🙈🙉🙊reveals a breathtaking case of either self deception or postmodern relativism: Isabelle Henriquez. I am going to include a lot of detail about her because it’s so fascinating.
DB again: According to the complaint, as a student at a pricey Catholic prep school, Isabelle was active and knowing participant in the cheating scheme that resulted in her acceptance at Georgetown. Isabelle’s parents paid The Key $25,000 to arrange for a “proctor” to sit with her as she took the SATs in October 2015 and to correct her answers as she went, the complaint said. Once the proctor was flown into San Francisco—on the Henriquezes’ dime—the exam was administered at Notre Dame High School, Belmont, the private all-girls Catholic school that Isabelle attended at the time. “Unbeknownst to the school,” the complaint alleges, the proctor “sat side-by-side” with Isabelle during the exam, providing her with answers as she went. “After the exam, he ‘gloated’ with Elizabeth Henriquez and her daughter about the fact that they had cheated and gotten away with it.”
Isabelle received a score of 1900 out of 2400, a 320-point improvement from her previous score, according to the complaint—although likely still too low to gain admission to Georgetown without spectacular extracurriculars and character references. Fortunately for Isabelle, according to the complaint, The Key was able to provide those as well. Federal investigators allege that the Henriquezes conspired with The Key to bribe Gordon Ernst, Georgetown’s head tennis coach, into designating Isabelle a tennis recruit, despite her notable handicap of having never played in a tennis tournament during her entire high school career.
“I have been really successful this summer playing tennis around the country,” Isabelle wrote in a letter to Ernst, the complaint alleges. “I am looking forward to having a chance to be part of the Georgetown tennis team and make a positive contribution to your team’s success.” Isabelle was also encouraged to rewrite her college application essay to be more tennis-centric, in keeping with her newfound lifelong passion for the sport. In her essay, Isabelle detailed the “three[-to-]four hours a day grinding out on and off court workouts with the hopes of becoming successful enough to play college tennis especially at Georgetown.”
Isabelle’s Georgetown application was submitted on Oct. 25, 2015. In it, the complaint alleges, she falsely stated that she played “club tennis” for 20 hours per week and was on the U.S. Tennis Association’s All-Academic Team. For good measure, Isabelle noted that she was ranked in the top 50 high schoolers on the USTA Junior Girls Tennis for three years, as well. Isabelle was admitted to Georgetown, and in May 2016, the Henriquez Family Trust “donated” $400,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit that allegedly functioned as a front for Singer’s payments to crooked coaches and proctors. The donation, according to a receipt delivered to Elizabeth Henriquez, would allow the foundation “to move forward with our plans to provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth.”
Me: Given the effusive self promotion of this prospective student, was there not a mere whiff of suspicion? Does anyone at Georgetown and similar schools verify anything?
Since her matriculation at Georgetown, Isabelle has declared her major in Spanish and worked as a tutor at Hoya Helpers, a program wherein Georgetown students tutor local public schoolchildren in Washington, D.C. In a blog entry written for a sociology class—scrubbed after this article was published—she described herself as “very independent and not dependent on others when I need things. I also find that I have a good moral compass,” Isabelle wrote.
Me: Why scrub it Izzy? Isn’t your self delusion sufficient to render you sort of a hero to the Instagram and Snapchat generation? If you’re worried that your future hedge fund colleagues will shun you for cheating, you’ve never watched Billions on Showtime. I would also highly recommend reading, that’s 📖 The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
Isabelle, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, has interned at Hercules Capital, her father’s company, as well as on the investment banking team of Compass Point Research and Trading. After this article was first published, Hercules Capital announced that Manuel Henriquez had “voluntarily stepped aside” from his role as chairman and CEO, although he will still serve as a board member and company advisor. (Manuel Henriquez is the co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Hercules Capital, a Northern California venture debt firm where he was paid $8,235,700 in total compensation in 2017. The Henriquezes reside in Atherton, California, a sunny hamlet in San Mateo County home to the most expensive ZIP Code in the United States.) If convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud—a felony charge—the Henriquezes could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Forbes: “All parents want to help their children. In Lori Loughlin’s case, she allegedly went to the extremes of having her daughter named an “athlete” for a sport she never played to get an admission acceptance and spending an alleged $250,000 for each of her daughters to do so. If convicted, she and her husband could be facing prison. These parents, especially Loughlin and Giannulli, have likely ruined their own careers because they wanted nothing more than having their kids get into an elite college.” Sorry Forbes Magazine, I don’t agree with “they wanted nothing more….” People who do stuff like this are suffering from Embedded Entitlement Syndrome–EES–and getting around requirements that us plebeians have to deal with is an entrance requirement for the EES club.
AP: Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, as much as $6.5 million, to guarantee their children’s admission, officials said. “These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a news conference in Boston, where the indictments in the scandal were handed up. At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents were implicated. The coaches worked at schools such as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. Stanford’s sailing coach John Vandemoer pleaded guilty Tuesday in Boston. A former Yale soccer coach had pleaded guilty before the documents went public and helped build the case against others.
Fox News: Kathy Griffin, using the hashtag #VarsityBlues, said “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett “is having the best day in MONTHS.” Lena Dunham, the creator of “Girls,” joked about the “Fuller House” star’s alleged involvement, saying those who purportedly contributed to the $25 million plot over the course of nearly a decade to bribe school coaches and administrators should have just given the money to directly to Loughlin, to teach her smiling techniques. She said her parents would have never forked over cash to help her land a dream school. “My parents didn’t care enough about college to scam but they’d definitely buy me a boyfriend who is willing to sit with me at the ER,” Dunham added. Olivia Munn appeared to throw some shade at Loughlin’s YouTube star daughter Olivia Jade. “The irony will be that these parents spent all this money to hustle into top universities and are now in the middle of this shit show just to find out in a few years that their kids only have dreams of being an influencer,” she jested. “I went to Harvard to be an Instagrammer. #ad #abs #fittea #waisttrainer #fitnessgoals #matchamornings #keto #lchf #superfoodmuffins,” she later added, replying to a fan who pointed out Olivia’s social media status.
Hey, parting thoughts: 1. Olivia Munn is really funny; 2. You know you’re having a really bad day when Kathy griffin makes an actually funny joke at your expense! 3. So much for your fellow celebrities supporting you. They are mostly sighing with relief that they weren’t caught. 4. If getting a good education was more important than the status accorded, undeservingly, to certain colleges, you could go to Hillsdale College, which I regard as the best school of learning and thinking in the country.