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NYC Lawyer Pleads Guilty In College Admissions Cheating Scam

Gordon Caplan.
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Gordon Caplan. Michael Dwyer/AP/Shutterstock

A top New York City lawyer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for his role in the college admissions cheating scandal. He potentially faces a prison term come his sentencing in October.

Gordon Caplan's prestigious Manhattan law firm—Willkie Farr & Gallagher—cut ties with him after it emerged that Caplan had paid $75,000 for a proctor to correct his daughter's ACT score from a projected 22 points (of a possible 36) to something in the 30 to 32 range.

Caplan believed these results would hold more appeal for Cornell, his alma mater, and schemed with admitted scam architect William "Rick" Singer to hammer out a plan. Caplan's daughter would first undergo an evaluation to ensure she had enough learning "discrepancies" to take 100 percent extra time on her exam, which she would sit in Los Angeles, under the supervision of one of Singer's hired hands. That employee would then go over her answers and surreptitiously polish them to meet the school's standards.

As a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, Caplan wondered whether or not having his kid travel across the country to take a test she could easily take locally might raise red flags for admissions officers. According to court documents, he acknowledged to Singer that the whole set-up "feels a little weird," but that he ultimately was "not worried about the moral issue here." Rather, Caplan allegedly said, he worried that if his daughter got caught, she would be "finished" reputation-wise. Singer assured him that, as long as no one talked, the secret would stay safe with them. His daughter wouldn't even know.

In early April, Caplan appeared in court alongside the most famous actor in "Operation Varsity Blues," Lori Loughlin, who allegedly paid Singer's sham organization a combined $500,000 to fake athletic profiles for her two daughters, at least one of whom (the vlogger) may have known about the rouse. Loughlin has pleaded not guilty.

Caplan, by contrast, said he took "full and sole responsibility for [his] conduct" after his court appearance. "I want to make clear that my daughter, whom I love more than anything in the world, is a high school junior and has not yet applied to college, much less been accepted by any school," he said in a statement. "She had no knowledge whatsoever about my actions, has been devastated to learn what I did and has been hurt the most by it."

Caplan will be sentenced in October. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors have agreed to recommend an eight month prison sentence and a fine of $40,000.

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