A billionaire pharmaceutical executive in China reportedly paid $6.5 million to a California man to get his daughter into Stanford University. The Los Angeles Times broke the story. Stanford acknowledged receiving $770,000 from William “Rick” Singer (pictured) on behalf of three students. Two of the students didn’t enroll at Stanford. A third student was admitted to the school as a recruit on Stanford’s sailing team, despite not having experience as a crew member.
Yusi Zhao, who lives in Beijing, was expelled from Stanford after the federal government indicted 50 people in the college admissions cheating scandal in March.
Stanford did not say whether Zhao was the student whose father paid $6.5 million to Singer to get her into the school as a member of Stanford’s sailing team.
Stanford said last month it had expelled a student who had submitted false information in her admission application.
E.J. Miranda, a spokesman for the university, stressed that the school did not receive $6.5 million from Singer, and that Singer only “donated” $770,000 to Stanford’s sailing program.
Stanford later clarified that it didn’t know if the $770,000 was part of the $6.5 million payment that Singer allegedly received.
Singer plead guilty to bribery, racketeering and rigging students’ college entrance exams.
The school’s former sailing coach, John Vandemoer (pictured), has pleaded guilty to racketeering and admitted accepting cash from Singer. He faces 2-8 years in federal prison when sentenced.
Stanford admitted receiving the $770,000 from Singer’s bogus foundation that he created to distribute funds to college admissions employees and coaches at 12 Ivy League schools in the U.S., including Stanford.
The $6.5 million payment is believed to be the largest single payment to Singer for his “side door” college admissions services. 33 other wealthy parents are charged with paying Singer $15,000 to $1.2 million to get their underachieving children into the country’s top schools.
The parents of Sherry Guo reportedly paid $1.2 million for Singer’s help getting their daughter into Yale. They denied any wrongdoing and have not been charged.
Zhao and her parents have not been accused in the scandal, according to the L.A. Times.
It is believed Zhao’s parents met Singer through the manager of a Los Angeles branch of investment bank Morgan Stanley that handles ultra high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) whose assets, including stocks and bonds, exceed $30 million.
Sources familiar with the manager tells the Times she often brought Singer into the office, and encouraged her financial advisors to offer Singer’s college consulting services to their wealthy clients who had children headed to college.
A spokesman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the Times’ story.
Fourteen parents have already plead guilty, including actress Felicity Huffman (pictured) who accepted a plea deal in exchange for less than 6 months in federal prison.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli formally plead not guilty in a Boston federal court on Monday. They are accused of paying Singer $500,000 to get their daughters, Olivia Jade, 19, and Bella, 20, into the University of Southern California. Both girls have since dropped out of USC.
The 54-year-old actress told friends she believes her only chance to avoid prison is to go to trial. Loughlin and Giannulli face charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison on each charge and a fine of $250,000.
Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said they soon expect to charge more people in the scandal.
According to the L.A. Times, an untold number of families in the Bay Area have been informed that they are targets of an investigation and they should expect to be charged soon.
Photos by Scott Eisen/Getty Images, Paul Marotta/Getty Images