Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Exam Administrator Gets One-Year Probation After Bribery Charges

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Niki D. Williams, a former college entrance exam administrator, was sentenced on Monday following her proven involvement in the notorious college admissions bribery scandal that surfaced last year.

Williams, 46, must complete one year of probation and pay a forfeiture of $12,500. Prosecutors recommended that a six-month prison stint would be best but the district judge said that losing a job and being tagged as a felon would be enough punishment.

“I don’t mean by this sentence to suggest you are not being punished. I think you have been punished, and I think you know you have been punished,” US District Court Judge Indira Talwani said

“But this wasn’t any pattern of self-interest in any kind of a larger scale. It makes me see this as a bad mistake you made but not something that would dictate that you would be likely to ever do something like this again,” she added.

Operation Varsity Blues

In September, the former Houston Independent School District employee pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and honest services wire fraud and mail fraud.

Williams is among the 57 people caught in the college admissions scandal that involved wealthy parents who worked with California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to illegally guarantee their children’s spot in prestigious schools.

In charge of administering the SAT and ACT exams in the public high school where she previously worked, Williams would be given bribe payments by Singer and fellow conspirator Martin Fox after she allowed Mark Ridell, another accomplice, to take the test on behalf of the children of Singer’s clients. Williams would also replace original exams with falsified tests that contain the right answers.

The case, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, has been successful in cracking down these schemes. Singer, Riddell, and Fox have all pleaded guilty.

Some of their notable clients include “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli who paid around half a million dollars to ensure their two daughters got accepted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though their children were not into the sport. 

The famous couple, along with other parents such as Douglas Hodge, Manuel Henriquez, Elizabeth Henriquez, and Michelle Janavs, has also pleaded guilty to conspiring to get their children admitted to top schools through bribes.

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