A former Palo Alto resident and Gunn High School student is among the 50 people indicted in a fraud scheme that involved cheating on college entrance exams and bribes to officials at some of the nation's top universities.
William McGlashan Jr., 55, attended Henry M. Gunn High School in the early 1980s, according to a former classmate. He was indicted on Tuesday in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, both felonies.
McGlashan allegedly participated in both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the athlete recruitment scheme, including conspiracy to bribe Donna Heinel, senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California. The objective was to make sure his older son was accepted to the university as a recruited athlete, according to a U.S. Department of Justice court filing.
McGlashan initially agreed to pay $50,000 to The Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit organization used to launder money that went to pay off some individuals in the wide-ranging scheme. The operation paid off people to either take college-entrance exams or to change the answers for the children of wealthy clients in order to improve the student's scores. One scheme included paying off high-ranking athletics employees by getting the students accepted as athlete recruits.
McGlashan paid the money to the foundation through an arrangement with its head, William "Rick" Singer, an admissions coach who counseled thousands of families across the country and engaged in the scheme with as many as 761 wealthy clients, according to his own admission, as laid out in a federal investigator's affidavit.
Singer had Mark Riddell, 36, of Palmetto, Florida, serve as a proctor for McGlashan's son's ACT exam at a test center that Singer "controlled." Riddell would correct the son's answers after the test was completed, according to the affidavit.
Three days before his son was scheduled to take the ACT exam in West Hollywood, McGlashan allegedly donated $50,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation from his personal charitable donation fund. Riddell allegedly traveled to West Hollywood from Tampa, Florida to proctor the test for McGlashan's son and two other students, which took place on Dec. 9, 2017. Riddell has told investigators that he corrected the boy's answers, according to the affidavit.
The son purportedly took the English and math sections of the test that day and the reading, writing and science sections on Dec. 10, 2017. But cellphone records showed that McGlashan's son was hundreds of miles away from the West Hollywood Test Center in Marin County at the time he was supposedly taking the second set of exams.
McGlashan's son received a score of 34 out of 36 on the exam, according to the affidavit. His son purportedly submitted the fraudulently obtained score as part of his application to Northeastern University in Boston on Oct. 22. But the son did not know about the scheme, and the two men discussed keeping it a secret from him during a wiretapped recording.
McGlashan and Singer also discussed a $250,000 payoff with a "donation" through the Key Worldwide Foundation to the University of Southern California Women's Athletics and the creation of a fake athletic profile of McGlashan's son with the help of Heinel at USC, which would allow him to be admitted to the university as a recruited athlete.
On Aug. 22, Singer and McGlashan also discussed trying to get his son in at Stanford University by creating the fake football profile using Photoshop software to get him admitted as a football recruit. The high school his son attended didn't have a football team, however, so Singer made the boy out to be a kicker and punter and to say that he went to a kicker camp. He had the boy's head transposed onto the body of a kicker.
"He does have really strong legs," McGlashan allegedly said, laughing, during a wiretapped phone call, according to the affidavit.
Singer and McGlashan also allegedly discussed repeating the cheating scheme for his daughter and younger son on July 30.
McGlashan, who currently resides in Mill Valley, is the founder and CEO of private equity firm TPG Growth and The Rise Fund, a social impact fund he co-founded with musician Bono and ex-eBay President Jeff Skoll. Because of the allegations, he was ousted from his position at both organizations on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"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," TPG said in a statement, according to the Journal, which also reported on a statement that McGlashan gave to company investors.
"By stepping down, I hope that The Rise Fund and TPG Growth will be best set to continue their mission," he said. "The Rise Fund and TPG Growth are obviously much bigger than any single individual, and it is important you continue building incredible companies that deliver great returns and impact."
He added that he is "deeply sorry this very difficult situation may interfere with the work to which I have devoted my life."
On Tuesday, McGlashan was taken into custody and appeared in federal court in San Francisco before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco on Tuesday, when he was released under the condition that he appear in federal court in Boston on March 29.
If convicted, McGlashan could spend up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of the gross gain or loss, according to federal prosecutors.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that McGlashan graduated from Gunn High School. He transferred before graduation.
• Listen to the March 15 episode of "Behind the Headlines," where Palo Alto college adviser John Raftrey discusses the implications of the nationwide admissions bribery scandal, now available on our YouTube channel and podcast.