s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe

Several prominent North Bay residents appeared in San Francisco federal court and posted bail Tuesday to answer criminal charges they fraudulently helped to better the chance their children would get into elite colleges and universities by falsifying their test scores and lying about their athletic accomplishments.

They are among 50 people indicted in a college admissions scandal. Announced by the Boston U.S. attorney’s office, the indictment accused defendants of acting in concert with a Newport college admissions adviser William Rick Singer, owner of The Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key, and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation.

Singer allegedly directed the defendants to pay large cash sums to him using his companies as intermediaries in exchange for his help getting their children into top schools.

The scheme implicated Yale, University of Southern California, University of San Diego, Stanford, UCLA, Wake Forest, Georgetown, the University of Texas at Austin and others according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, a group of college students and their parents filed a class action suit against several of those schools and Singer in San Francisco federal court, claiming they were unfairly denied admission and claiming negligence on behalf of the schools.

Singer pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court Tuesday to racketeering conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the federal government and obstruction of justice and is a cooperating witness for the prosecution.

Among those who appeared in court in San Francisco Tuesday were Agustin Huneeus, president of Napa Valley’s Huneeus Vintners; Bill McGlashan, a Mill Valley resident and former top investor at the private equity firm TPG Capital in San Francisco; and Todd and Diane Blake, of Ross in Marin County.

Huneeus was released on a $1 million unsecured bond after appearing before Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, according to court documents. Huneeus is represented in the case by William Patrick Keane of Farella Braun & Martel LLP. Neither Keane nor Huneeus responded to requests for comment.

McGlashan also appeared Tuesday and posted a $1 million unsecured bond. TPG terminated him for cause Thursday according to an emailed statement from a company spokesperson. That conflicted with a report from CNBC that he had resigned in a letter to the board to focus on his family and address the allegations. Said the TPG spokesperson:

“Bill McGlashan has been terminated for cause from his positions with TPG and Rise effective immediately. After reviewing the allegations of personal misconduct in the criminal complaint, we believe the behavior described to be inexcusable and antithetical to the values of our entire organization. As we stated in the previous announcement of Mr. McGlashan’s administrative leave, Jim Coulter will take over managing partner responsibilities for TPG Growth and Rise.”

Mcglashan was a member of the Board of Trustees of the private high school his son attended, Marin Academy, but resigned according to an email sent to school parents by Head of School Anne Travis Brownley. Brownley denied any knowledge or connection to the scandal in the email.

The Blakes were also released on $1 million bonds apiece. Court filings did not identify a lawyer of record.

Court documents describe Todd Blake as an entrepreneur and investor and Diane Blake as an executive at a retail merchandising firm..

All four defendants will next make appearances in Boston federal court at the end of the month.

Huneeus stands accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud after he allegedly tried to bribe the water polo coach and other athletic staff at the University of Southern California to gain admission for his daughter as a recruit.

He is also accused of contributing $50,000 to a purported educational charity after its CEO Singer, the admissions adviser and admitted orchestrator of the scheme, arranged for standardized test time extensions and for stand ins to take tests for students and correct their answers, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege Singer used the charity as a front to accept the payment personally and paid $10,000 to the water polo coach, Jovan Vavic, and the proctor.

Singer “controlled” the testing center where Huneeus’ daughter took her SAT exam and arranged to have an associate proctor her exam and “correct” her answers, according to court filings. He also allegedly put together a false profile of her career as a water polo player to gain admission.

McGlashan is charged with the same crimes and allegedly conspired to bribe Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director at USC –now indicted by the same federal grand jury – to get his son into the school.

Heinel and the former water polo coach Vavic had been terminated according to a statement from USC.

McGlashan also paid Singer’s Key Worldwide Foundation $50,000 three days before his son’s ACT college entrance exam, which were taken by a stand-in in Los Angeles while his son was in Marin County, and worked with Singer to fabricate a false profile that would make him appear to be a football recruit, according to charging documents.

Singer then allegedly caused the charity to pay $35,000 to Igor Dvorskiy, director of the West Hollywood College Preparatory School who facilitated the test and $35,000 to another unnamed cooperating witness.

The Blakes paid $200,000 to one of Key’s charitable accounts after working with Heinel and Singer to make their daughter appear to be a volleyball recruit to USC, according to the indictment.