SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Justice Department revealed their investigation into an elaborate college admissions scam Tuesday that involved many schools including, Stanford, USC, UCLA, and USD.
William Rick Singer has been identified as the mastermind of the admissions scam. Singer owns Edge College and Career Network in Sacramento on American River Drive and was reportedly paid $25 million by parents between 2011 and February of 2018.
He has offices in Newport Beach and has ties to the Sacramento area, where he was a well-known college prep advisor.
At least two of Singer’s employees were living in the Folsom area and both were arraigned in federal court in Downtown Sacramento. Both were charged with racketeering. CBS13 found Singer has deep ties to the Sacramento area and has helped hundreds of local students get into colleges.
Archives from the Granite Bay Gazette show students from Granite Bay High School as far back as 2014, singing Singer’s praises, saying he really helped them prepare for the SAT and through the whole recruiting process.
The company’s website boasts a college counseling program that begins as early as freshman year, with a special talent program that ranges from assistance in contacting and generating interest from colleges to assembling portfolios and athletic resumes.
CBS13 has confirmed that Singer was a guest teacher at Rio Americano in the 80s, as well as a basketball coach at Encina. He reportedly started his first college counseling business in Sacramento in the early 1990s and started his current business, known as The Key Worldwide, in 2007.
Singer’s accountant and financial advisor, 69-year-old Steve Masera, is accused of collecting money from parents disguised as charitable donations, then using them as bribes to test administrators.
Michaela Sanford, 32, allegedly worked for Singer in various capacities. According to court documents, she helped fabricate athletic profiles and bolster college applications. She is even accused of taking online classes in the students’ names so the students could submit grades that Sanford earned.
Sanford was alone in court Tuesday, represented by a public defender. She will be released later this evening on $50,000 unsecured bond.
Masera was accompanied by a lawyer and his family, including two adult children, one of whom is an attorney. He will be released today on $100,000 bond.
Sources inside Granite Bay High School confirm Singer’s services are well-known among students in all of the top-tier high schools in the area. He was known as the premier college counselor in the area, but that’s not to say that all of his clients, or any of his local clients, solicited bribes or participated in illegal activity.
There is a concern now that anyone who’s ever used his services will have a stigma, even if they did not do anything wrong.