Sarah Rice / The New York Times

Gordon Caplan, left, left federal court in Boston on Wednesday. Caplan said he will plead guilty to charges associated with a nationwide scheme surrounding admission to competitive schools.

April 5, 2019

Gordon Caplan ’88 Says He Will Plead Guilty in College Admissions Case

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Gordon Caplan ’88 said he would plead guilty on Friday afternoon to criminal charges that emerged in the college admissions scandal that alleged Caplan of paying $75,000 to rig his daughter’s ACT score.

“I take full and sole responsibility for my conduct and I am deeply ashamed of my behavior and my actions,” Caplan said in an emailed statement distributed by his lawyer. “I apologize not only to my family, friends, colleagues and the legal Bar, but also to students everywhere who have been accepted to college through their own hard work.”

The lawyer also expressed that his daughter, a high school junior, had “no knowledge whatsoever” about the scheme that he used to up her ACT score.

FBI documents said that last June, scheme coordinator William Singer urged Caplan to petition for extended test-taking time for his daughter. In July, transcripts showed Caplan and his wife discussing having employees of Singer take classes under Caplan’s daughter’s name. In November, Caplan forked out the first payment, wiring $25,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Singer’s college preparatory business.

At the time, Caplan said his daughter’s highest practice ACT score was a 22; he ultimately sought a 32 for his daughter, court documents show.

Caplan hails from Greenwich, Connecticut — one of the top 10 richest places in the country. In December, he dropped off his daughter at the West Hollywood Test Center in California in the morning, and picked her up from the testing center later that Saturday afternoon. According to court documents, Singer recruited a colleague to purportedly proctor — and “decipher” — Caplan’s daughter’s ACT.

Less than two weeks later, Caplan forked out another $50,000. In return, based on an agreement hashed out over the phone in November, Singer guaranteed an ACT score between 32 and 34. Court documents say Caplan asked Singer not to score his daughter higher than a 32.

“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,” Caplan wrote. “She had no knowledge whatsoever about my actions, has been devastated to learn what I did and has been hurt the most by it.”

“My immediate goal is to focus on making amends for my actions to try to win back the trust and respect of my daughter, my family, and my community,” the alumnus continued. “The remorse and shame that I feel is more than I can convey.”

Caplan was named a defendant in an FBI investigation that also accused famous actresses including Full House star Lori Loughlin, exam administrators and athletic directors of giving and accepting bribes to admit students to elite colleges, including Yale University and Stanford University.

The alumnus — who graduated from Cornell with a B.A. in government — previously told Singer, “to be honest, I’m not worried about the moral issue here,” court documents state.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher, an international law firm, cut ties with former firm partner Caplan, saying he is no longer a partner as a result of his plea in the college admissions case.

The Caplan Family Foundation Trust — headed by Gordon and Amy Caplan — donated generously to his alma maters, according to tax documents. In 2017, the Trust gave $100,000 to Cornell University, preceded by $140,000 in 2016, years during which Caplan’s daughter was likely in her first two years of high school.

These numbers were a significant jump from previous years. The Trust donated $15,000, $40,000 and $15,000 in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively. The University received at least $7,500 from the Trust before then, reports show.

Caplan also made sizable donations to Fordham Law School beginning in 2002, according to ProPublica reports.

In other conversations with Singer, Caplan discussed Cornell, referring, according to court documents, to an athletic recruitment scheme “which he also expressed an interest in but ultimately decided not to pursue.”

Friday’s statement did not specify what charges Caplan intends to plead guilty to, and the University did not respond to requests for comment on Friday afternoon.