A former Palo Alto resident and one-time Gunn High School student has agreed to plead guilty to a single federal charge in the 2019 national college admissions scam that involved more than 50 parents, sports staff and test proctors.
William McGlashan, 57, a former senior executive at the global private equity firm TPG Capital and co-founder of the nonprofit The Rise Fund, will plead guilty to one count of aiding and abetting wire fraud and honest services wire fraud by Feb. 15, according to federal court documents. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled.
McGlashan is among 57 people charged in the pay-to-play college admissions scheme, in which certain parents are accused of falsifying college admission test results and which bribed some college employees to get the children of well-heeled parents into top colleges and universities. Some coaches admitted the students through athletic recruitment for sports they had never played, according to federal prosecutors.
McGlashan was initially accused of participating in both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the athlete recruitment scheme, including conspiracy to bribe Donna Heinel, then the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California. Prosecutors alleged that he wanted to ensure that his older son was accepted to the university as a recruited athlete, according to a U.S. Department of Justice court filing.
He initially agreed to pay $50,000 to William "Rick" Singer and The Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Singer had Mark Riddell, of Palmetto, Florida, serve as a proctor for McGlashan's son's ACT exam in 2017 at a test center that Singer "controlled." Riddell allegedly corrected the son's answers after the test was completed, according to the affidavit. The son did not know about the scheme.
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. A fake athletic profile of McGlashan's son with Heinel's help would help him to be admitted to the university as a recruited athlete, according to the federal indictment.
The plea deal relates to the testing conduct only, however, and prosecutors dropped three other more serious charges against him. He maintained he didn't pay for or use the so-called "side door" deal regarding the athletics recruitment.
According to prosecutors, Singer and McGlashan also allegedly discussed repeating the cheating scheme for his daughter and younger son.
The aiding and abetting wire fraud and honest services wire fraud charge against McGlashan carries a sentence of up 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Under the plea agreement, McGlashan could be sentenced to three months in prison, two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service and a fine of $250,000, pending the court's approval.
The plea agreement also reserves McGlashan's right to appeal a previous court ruling, which denied his motion to dismiss the charge. Under the plea deal, he can appeal parts of the ruling on his motion, in which he claimed that test scores cannot constitute property under the mail or wire fraud statutes; that if standardized tests might be considered property under the mail or wire fraud statutes, the indictment did not adequately allege facts to establish a scheme to fraudulently obtain standardized tests in this case; and that the indictment did not adequately allege facts establishing that test administrators owed a fiduciary (monetary) duty to testing companies in the case. If he wins the motion on appeal, McGlashan has the right to withdraw his guilty plea.
McGlashan is the ninth Bay Area resident to plead guilty in the nationwide scam. Other residents, who have taken plea deals and were sentenced to punishments ranging from fines with no jail time to a few months in prison with hefty fines, include former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer; Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper and Peter Jan Sartorio; Atherton residents Manuel Henriquez and Elizabeth Henriquez; and Napa vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr..
Hillsborough residents Bruce and Davina Isackson have pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.