Admissions Fixer for Phony Athletic Recruits Pleads Guilty

(Bloomberg) -- A Houston man who pocketed $245,000 to help phony athletic recruits get into the University of Texas and the University of San Diego pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy in the latest conviction in the U.S. college admissions scandal.

Martin Fox, 62, the former president of a private Texas tennis academy and a figure in college basketball circles, acted as a middleman between corrupt college admissions consultant Rick Singer and two coaches, according to prosecutors.

Admissions Fixer for Phony Athletic Recruits Pleads Guilty

Prosecutors promised to recommend Fox serve a sentence of 21 months, according to a plea agreement dated Oct. 11 that grants him immunity from further charges. The government could ultimately recommend Fox serve less time based on how much assistance he gives prosecutors, according to details of the accord.

Fox has agreed to forfeit $245,000. It’s unclear what additional information he’s given investigators about the biggest college admissions fraud ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. Sentencing is set for Feb. 14.

Investigators said Fox helped at least three unqualified students land college seats through Singer’s “sidedoor” scheme.

In 2015, Fox took $100,000 from Singer for introducing him to University of Texas former men’s tennis coach Michael Center, according to investigators. Center, who also is cooperating, pleaded guilty in April to accepting bribes to designate an unqualified student for his team.

Prosecutors have told the court Singer later paid Fox another $100,000 for orchestrating bribes to the former University of San Diego basketball coach in exchange for recruiting two unqualified students. One of the students ultimately did not attend.

College officials said in a statement last spring that the coach had already resigned in 2018 on an unrelated matter. He hasn’t been charged. The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office said the coach received $10,000 as part of the scheme.

Fox also introduced Singer to the administrator of a Houston testing center named Niki Williams, whom prosecutors claim took bribes to allow Singer to rig ACT tests for children of wealthy parents who paid millions to his sham charity. Williams has plead not guilty to racketeering.

Prosecutors have charged more than 50 people in the scandal, including 35 parents. Six coaches have plead guilty while five other coaches and athletic personnel are seeking trials. Nineteen parents also want trials.

Other parents have already plead guilty and received sentences ranging from probation for one father to six months in prison for a former California title insurance executive who used Singer’s scheme to win places at USC for his daughter and son.

The case is U.S. v. Fox, 19-cr-10081, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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