The fallout from the college-admissions cheating scandal entered a new phase with the emergence of a new potential cooperator, as accused parents separate themselves into distinct camps: those who plead guilty and those who will fight, the Wall Street Journal reports. Martin Fox, a key ally of the confessed ringleader of the athletic-bribery scheme, William “Rick” Singer, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors. Four high-profile parents reversed themselves entered guilty pleas in deals that could bring stiffer punishments than seen so far. The rush of pleas came as the government is expected to bring new charges as early as Tuesday against parents who haven’t pleaded guilty. The charges relate to alleged bribes of people at colleges or testing agencies that receive federal funding.
Other parents are making a different calculus with the intention of going to trial. They argue that Singer’s athletic-recruitment scheme was just another facet of an admissions world where family wealth gives applicants an advantage. Nineteen of the 35 parents criminally charged have now pleaded guilty. The first to plead Monday was Douglas Hodge, former chief executive of bond giant Pacific Investment Management Co. He was followed by Manuel Henriquez, who ran specialty finance firm Hercules Capital, and then Michelle Janavs, whose family fortune came from the company that created Hot Pockets microwavable snacks. Fox, a Houston sports broker accused of connecting Singer to coaches and a test-site administrator, agreed to plead guilty to a charge of racketeering conspiracy and to assist the government. Fox could help fill in details about how Singer managed to connect with, and allegedly pay off, a vast web of coaches. Prosecutors recommended Fox receive a sentence at the low end of the 21-to-27 month range and forfeit $245,000 in ill-gotten gains.