Admissions Scandal Rocks Higher Education

Wrongdoing Includes Bribes, Cheating on Entrance Exams and Misrepresentation of Athletic Ability

college students on campusIn March, 2019, federal prosecutors announced a total of 50 indictments in what officials say is the most extensive college admissions fraud ever uncovered in the United States. The FBI investigation, codename “Operation Varsity Blues,” led to charges against coaches and parents, including some celebrities. Among the charges levied were conspiracy, racketeering and wire fraud. The colleges and universities at which the fraudulent acts affected admissions included Stanford, the University of Southern California, Yale, Wake Forest, Georgetown and the University of Texas at Austin.

Of the 50 indictments, 33 named parents, who prosecutors say paid as much as $6.5 million to ensure that their offspring would be admitted to one of the elite institutions. The alleged brains behind the scam, William Singer, allegedly coordinated bribes to coaches, test proctors and others. Singer purportedly ran a private “counseling” firm and foundation through which the bribe money was funneled.

According to documents obtained by the FBI, Singer boasted that his company “help[s] the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.” Singer told prospective parents that he offered a “guarantee,” which he could secure because he had created a “side door” to various institutions of higher learning.

Apparently, the side door most often involved the falsification of student athletic profiles, so that the children of the wealthy parents would be admitted based on alleged athletic ability. In wiretaps, FBI agents overheard one parent detailing plans of how he would get his son into the University of Southern California as a football recruit (listing him as a highly sought after kicker/punter), even though the high school the student attended had no football program. The parent talked about taking a picture of the youth and using Photoshop to create a false impression that the student was a talented athlete.

The coaches indicted represented a number of “second-tier” sports, including men’s and women’s tennis, volleyball, soccer, sailing and water polo. One athletic director was also named.

Singer allegedly charged different fees, based on the college to which the parents sought admission. He also coached parents on how to describe the transaction if it came to light, saying he told the IRS that it was money being used to “help underserved kids.”

The indictments also contend that the participants conspired to cheat on college entrance exams. Some of the children of the indicted parents were encouraged by Singer and others to file requests for extra time on ACT and SAT exams, alleging that they had learning disabilities. Test proctors were also bribed to allow someone to take the test in the applicant’s place. There was also evidence that some test proctors either gave student correct answers or reviewed and corrected their answers after the test was completed (for which they received payments).

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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The Difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor Traffic Offense

Man pulled over in car worried about police

Understanding the Different Types of Traffic Violations

In Texas, as in all other states, the criminal laws make a distinction between those that are considered misdemeanors and those that rise to the level of a felony. Many states also have lesser offense, labeled as an “infraction” or “petty offense.” There can be a significant difference in the way a case is prosecuted, in your options, and in the potential penalties for conviction. Let’s take a look at what distinguishes a misdemeanor from a felony, and then identify how that applies to traffic citations or violations.

What is a Misdemeanor?

As a rule, a misdemeanor is typically considered to be a less serious offense. There are certain types of crimes that are only prosecuted as misdemeanors, but there are also crimes that may be categorized as either, based on the specific facts of the offense. For example, some drug crimes may be charged as misdemeanors, including most types of possession, but others may be prosecuted as felonies, including trafficking or possession with intent to sell.

As a general rule, a misdemeanor results in a shorter period of incarceration, typically less than a year. In addition, a sentence for a misdemeanor it customarily served in a city or county jail, rather than a prison. You can be charged with multiple misdemeanors in the same legal proceeding and may be sentenced to serve time concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one sentence after the other).

You have the same constitutional rights with a misdemeanor that you have when charged with a felony. You have the right to representation by legal counsel—an option you should always take. Jury trials may or may not be available, depending on the jurisdiction and the offense. Typically, the jury for a misdemeanor is smaller than for a felony.

What is a Felony?

Felonies are considered much more serious. As a result, the penalties are more severe and certain basic rights, such as the right to vote or own/possess firearms, may be lost upon conviction. Many violent crimes are prosecuted only as felonies, including most forms of homicide and many sex crimes. Other offenses, such as theft, may be charged as petty theft (a misdemeanor) or grand theft (a felony), based on the value of the goods stolen.

As a general rule, conviction for a felony will result in incarceration in a state or federal prison for a minimum of one year. Felony convictions can also lead to substantial fines, payable to the state.

Traffic Offenses

In most instances, a traffic violation will be charged either as an infraction/petty offense or as a misdemeanor. In fact, most traffic citations don’t even rise to the level of a misdemeanor, unless there was damage to property, someone suffered a personal injury, or there was a legitimate threat of personal injury/property damage. A traffic offense will seldom constitute a felony, unless the defendant is a repeat offender or there’s death, great bodily injury or substantial property damage.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.