Gordon Caplan, co-Chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher law company leaves the federal courthouse after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston. Picture: Reuters/Gretchen Ertl

Boston - The former co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher on Friday became the second parent to say he would plead guilty to participating in what prosecutors call the largest college admissions scam uncovered in U.S. history.

Gordon Caplan, who the New York-based firm said on Friday is no longer a partner, is among 50 people federal prosecutors allege participated in schemes that involved cheating on college entrance exams and paying $25 million in bribes to buy the children of affluent Americans seats in well-known universities including Yale, Georgetown and the University of Southern California.

Caplan in a statement said he took "full and sole responsibility for my conduct."

The scam's mastermind, California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer, has pleaded guilty to overseeing a racketeering scheme in which parents paid to help their children cheat on admissions tests and bribe coaches to present them as elite prospects in college sports such as sailing, crew and water polo even if they had no athletic experience.

Other accused parents include "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman and "Full House" actor Lori Loughlin.

Caplan follows packaged food entrepreneur Peter Sartorio, who on Wednesday became the first of the 33 parents charged to reveal he plans to plead guilty. California businessman Devin Sloane and marketing executive Jane Buckingham, in court filings disclosed they were in plea talks.

'SORT OF RULES-ORIENTED'

Prosecutors alleged that in November and December Caplan made a $75 000 contribution to Singer's foundation in exchange for the consultant arranging to have an associate proctor his daughter's ACT college entrance exam and correct her answers.

As with other parents charged in the case, authorities obtained recordings of phone calls between Singer and Caplan, who on a November 2018 call asked Singer if "anybody ever gotten into an issue with this."

"Keep in mind I'm a lawyer," he told Singer, according to court papers. "I'm sort of rules oriented."

Caplan on Friday stressed that his daughter, a high school junior who has yet to apply to any colleges, had no knowledge of his actions. He said she has been "devastated to learn what I did and has been hurt the most by it."

Prosecutors have not yet charged any applicants and said that in some cases the parents involved took steps to try to prevent their children from realizing they were benefiting from fraud. 

Reuters