The #FloridaMan who helped rich kids cheat on their college entrance exams was “just a really smart guy,” according to the US Attorney for Massachusetts.
TAMPA, FL—Amid all of the publicity surrounding “Operation Varsity Blues”—an illegal pay-to-play scheme where in rich and powerful parents (including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin) allegedly paid an estimated $25 million in bribes to college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s top colleges—is a Florida man who was paid to take college entrance exams for the kids.
“Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes to boost their chances of getting into college,” according to the Associated Press. “The consultant also hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students, and paid off insiders at testing centers to alter students’ scores.”
One of those ringers was Mark Riddell, the director of college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy in Bradenton, according to the Miami Herald.
“Riddell was charged with taking SAT and ACT exams in the place of students and correcting students’ exams for money. He is alleged to have done this for students from 14 families, including for Huffman’s daughter. Late Tuesday, Riddell’s employer, the Bradenton-based IMG Academy, said, ‘Riddell has been suspended indefinitely as we investigate this matter.’”
Riddell “didn’t have inside information about the answers, he was just smart enough to get a near perfect score on demand or to calibrate the score,” the leading federal prosecutor said of Riddell.
“U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling detailed the process of the alleged scheme at a news conference Tuesday morning and described Riddell as ‘just a really smart guy.'”
William “Rick” Singer — who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other charges for orchestrating the cheating ring — would arrange for Riddell to get a copy of the test from a bribed test administrator and then take it on behalf of the student, reported ABC News.