Ex-global equity firm exec, former Gunn High student, implicated in admissions scam | News | Palo Alto Online |


Ex-global equity firm exec, former Gunn High student, implicated in admissions scam

William McGlashan is one of 50 wealthy executives, celebrities named in a federal indictment

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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.

Related content:

• 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.

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13 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Did the son honestly believe that he earned those test scores. Come on.

2 people like this
Posted by Bunyip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:03 pm

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by Stanford Football
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Stanford Football is a registered user.

If Singer even thought they could get his son in at Stanford as a football recruit then he must of had someone on the football staff or in the AD's office on his payroll, just as he had the USC, UCLA coaches and the Stanford Sailing coach. There's no way the football program would stand for allowing a student admitted as a football prospect without them writing off on it.

Expect more Stanford names to come out.

5 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by @Sanctimonious Poster
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 15, 2019 at 8:54 am

Nice try, but you got it wrong. As usual.

THIS is what it should be:


noun: A portmanteau that combines the two words for ignorant and racist. Frequently applied to *alt-right cultists* who perpetuate false stereotypes of white people, US history, the justice system and democracy. The behavior is often useful in efforts to virtue signal, deflect their own guilt, demonstrate allegiance with other inter-sectional grievance groups or to score cheap points in a game of knowing the least about anything without any evidence.

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Guy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:44 am

[Post removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:09 am

[Post removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by bill1940
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:18 am

Did any of you read today's Stanford Report?

"We have continued researching this and at this point know that a total of $770,000 was contributed by the foundation to the sailing program, in the form of three separate gifts.

The head sailing coach pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges that he accepted financial contributions to the sailing program from this foundation in exchange for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission to Stanford. Neither of these two students subsequently completed the application process; therefore, neither was admitted to Stanford nor enrolled at Stanford. (One of them had previously gone through Stanford’s admission process, without any involvement of the head sailing coach, and had been denied admission.)

Some of the funding from the foundation was associated with a third student, who was not named in the government’s charges on Tuesday. This student received no recommendation from the head sailing coach but was admitted to Stanford and is currently enrolled. The student has no affiliation with the sailing program. We are working to better understand the circumstances around this student and will take whatever actions are appropriate based on what we learn."

Stanford is contributing the $770,000 to a suitable charity.

4 people like this
Posted by another parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 7:40 pm

How can the son not know about the scheme? His phone records showed that on the day that he supposedly scored a ACT on the 34, he was in Marin County, not the testing center in West Hollywood!

4 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:10 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by @Sanctimonious Poster
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:47 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2019 at 7:38 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I sent the Weekly a photo of Bill and I and the Terman 7th grade football team but my recollection is that he transferred to Woodside Priory and did not graduate from Gunn.

Surely with a little legwork you could find 10 or 20 of us who were his classmates and still live here.

He was just one of the guys did not stand out academically or athletically but my sense was he was a late bloomer and certainly he has been very successful in business in the ensuing years.
Maybe one of the most successful guys in our class Nick Sturiale went to Chico State. Our valedictorian went to Harvard but killed himself, J- .

My prediction is a lot of these people can hire good lawyers and will not be convicted of anything.

To the extent that college choice is over-emphasized this story contributes to the problem more than it augers of a remedy.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2019 at 9:16 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Can't you change the headline if Bill did not actualy attend Gunn, or graduate. I said he went to Terman. I found five false positives on Palo Altans who your "internet source" said went to Gunn but did not. They went to Gunn parties. Not the same thing, even in the 1970s.

But its fitting you covered this as a side bar since many Palo Altans know the McGlashens.

Maybe he's innocent. But at the least my theory is that either money corrupts -- I'm sure he made tens of millions in his various hedge funds -- or he's too much of a striver in that he was not exceptional either as a athlete or a scholar in his formative years in Palo Alto schools.

And to be fair: maybe Bill McG has theories on how my adult life was presaged by my 5th grade or 7th grade persona.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Update: Bill lawyered up with John Hueston my Dartmouth classmate who as a prosecutor convicted Ken Lay of Enron.

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