A Mystery Solved in the College Admissions Scandal: The Family Who Paid $1.2 Million
One of the mysteries of the sweeping college admissions fraud case has been over the families that prosecutors say paid the biggest sums to a college consultant at the center of the schemes but that have not been charged.
The 33 parents charged in the scandal are mostly accused of paying the consultant, William Singer, either tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to facilitate cheating on admissions tests or to bribe coaches or other officials so that their children could be admitted to schools as recruited athletes.
But the prosecutors leading the largest-ever college admissions prosecution have also alluded to other families, not named and not charged, who paid far more. One family paid Mr. Singer $6.5 million to get their child into college through the recruitment scheme, the prosecutors have said. Another was described in court documents as having paid Mr. Singer $1.2 million in connection with their daughter’s application to Yale.
Prosecutors said that the daughter, whom they called Yale Applicant 1 in court documents, was admitted to Yale as a recruit for the women’s soccer team, despite not being a competitive soccer player. According to documents charging Rudolph Meredith, the former women’s soccer coach at Yale, Mr. Singer had paid Mr. Meredith a bribe to designate the young woman as a recruit for the team. Mr. Singer has pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges, and Mr. Meredith has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges.
On Friday, Yale Applicant 1 was finally identified: She is Sherry Guo, a young woman from China who moved to Southern California for high school, and who was a freshman at Yale until last month, according to her lawyer, James Spertus.
上周五，“耶鲁申请人1”的身份终于确定，她的律师詹姆斯·斯珀特斯(James Spertus)表示，这名叫雪莉·郭(Sherry Guo)的年轻女子从中国来到南加州上高中，直到上个月还是耶鲁的一年级新生。
Ms. Guo’s identity was first reported on Friday by The Wall Street Journal.
A spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Boston, Christina Sterling, declined to comment on Ms. Guo’s case. Asked why Ms. Guo and her parents — as well as the still unidentified family that was said to have paid Mr. Singer $6.5 million — have not been charged in the case, she said, “I cannot comment other than to say it is an ongoing investigation.”
According to the charges against Mr. Meredith, Ms. Guo and her family were introduced to Mr. Singer in 2017 by a financial adviser based in Los Angeles. An employee of the financial adviser sent Mr. Singer an email “stating that Yale Applicant 1’s father wished to make a ‘donation’ to ‘one of those top schools for his daughter’s ‘application,’” the charging documents said.
Mr. Singer promptly sent Ms. Guo’s résumé and personal statement to Mr. Meredith, the soccer coach, according to the charging documents. Her personal statement contained links to her art portfolio; Mr. Singer told Mr. Meredith he would “revise” the materials to “soccer.” A few days later, he sent Mr. Meredith an athletic profile that falsely described Ms. Guo as the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in Southern California. Mr. Meredith then designated her as a recruit for the soccer team.
According to the charging documents, Mr. Singer mailed Mr. Meredith a check for $400,000 in 2018, and later that year, Ms. Guo’s relatives paid Mr. Singer $1.2 million in several installments, $900,000 of which was sent to a nonprofit foundation Mr. Singer had set up, and which prosecutors argue was used to hide much of Mr. Singer’s and his clients’ illicit activity.
Mr. Spertus said that Ms. Guo and her parents did not know that the payment was going toward a bribe. Her parents did not speak English and were not in direct contact with Mr. Singer, he said, while Ms. Guo herself was naïve about how the college admissions process worked in the United States. (Mr. Spertus would not identify Ms. Guo’s parents.)
Ms. Guo wanted to go to Columbia University or Oxford, Mr. Spertus said, but Mr. Singer told her to apply to Yale, and that she would be guaranteed to get in. While that might have seemed strange to a student who grew up in the United States, he said, Ms. Guo did not expect to have much choice about where to go to college.
“She wasn’t working with Singer to find the best school for her,” he said. “She is now devastated because she is no longer in college, period.” Yale has said that it rescinded the admission of one student in connection with the case, but has not identified the student.
He said that Ms. Guo was not copied on either of the emails that Mr. Singer sent to Mr. Meredith suggesting that her college credentials be falsified to say she played soccer.
Mr. Spertus said the large size of the payment suggested that Mr. Singer was exploiting Ms. Guo’s family and their lack of knowledge about the college process.
“The amount alone shows that he was preying on the Chinese community,” he said. “The donation was made to help underprivileged youth. They were not aware that the money went to Meredith. They did not know that he was going to use that money for a bribe. There is no evidence of that whatsoever.”