Former HISD employee pleads guilty in college admission scandal

[UPDATE 21 Dec : Williams sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay forfeiture of $12,500.]

Niki Williams, of Houston, has pleaded guilty in the Rick Singer college admissions scandal that has involved celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. She has admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, one year of supervised release, a fine, forfeiture in the amount of $20,000 and restitution.

The Key players

The ringleader of the scheme was Rick Singer, of Newport Beach, California, who ran a college prep business. He pled guilty in March 2019 and is awaiting sentencing. The other Houston resident charged in the scheme was Martin Fox. He was described in a 2011 Sports Illustrated article as an ‘Adidas Grass Roots Director of Houston’. He pled guilty in October 2019.

The other major party in the scheme was Mark Riddell of Florida. He was one who take the SAT or ACT test on behalf of the students.  Riddell was employed by IMG Academy, the renowned boarding school and athletic training facility. He pled guilty in April 2019.

The role of Williams

Williams was a Teacher’s Assistant at a high school in Houston. She was also an administrator for the ACT and SAT exams, which were held in the same school. In fact, Fox introduced Williams to Singer.

In one example given in the indictment, Riddell flew in from Florida and took the ACT test in a Houston hotel room on behalf of a student whose parents had paid Singer $50,000. Williams allegedly delivered the exam and picked it up afterwards. According to the indictment she was paid $5,000.

There’s one other defendant with Houston connections. John Wilson lives in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. He was arrested at George Bush airport in Houston.

Weatherford consultant faces trial

Wilson was one of the lead McKinsey management consultants involved in trying to turn around Weatherford (how did that work out?). Wilson allegedly paid Singer $1.5 million to facilitate his daughter’s admissions to Stanford and Harvard. He faces a jury trial next year.


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