On April 22, 2019 I posted a piece about a prominent attorney who had confessed to having paid $75,000 to have his daughter’s ACT test “corrected” before submission to the ACT. He had “employed” the services of Rick Singer to have the test score rigged. As you will recall William Rick Singer is the man behind what became the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal.
Having written about the attorney, Gordon Caplan, I feel obligated to provide an update following the decision of New York’s Appellate Division to suspend Mr. Caplan from practicing law for two years. This closes the legal proceedings for the former co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, a major international law firm in New York City.
In my prior post, “The Immorality of It All,” I quoted Mr. Caplan’s wiretapped statement to Rick Singer – “I’m not worried about the moral issue here. I’m worried about the – if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.” In response, I wrote, “As a lawyer, as a certified college admissions advisor, as a former high school English teacher and as a former proctor for the College Board’s SAT examination, my reaction to [what Mr. Caplan had said] was multifaceted disgust.”
Today, I feel much better about Mr. Caplan. And unlike some, I believe the Appellant Division decided correctly.
Following his guilty plea in May, 2019, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced him to one month in federal prison, one year of supervised release (parole), 250 hours of community service and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine. This, together with the loss of his position at his law firm, the personal and public embarrassment he suffered and the legal bills incurred, comprise a very significant consequence for his actions.
Just before his sentencing, Mr. Caplan told Judge Talwani, “I disregarded the values I’ve had throughout my life.” He continued, “I failed. I failed my daughter. I failed my wife. I failed my parents. I failed my colleagues. And I failed the profession that I love.” He added, “This was not a victimless crime. The real victims of this crime were the kids and parents who play by the rules.”
By all accounts, Gordon Caplan was a much better man than the man who employed Rick Singer. And by all accounts, he is chastened and become, again, the better man he was before the Varsity Blues scandal.
Note: Two days ago Netflix released Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal, a documentary about the bribery scandal from 2019.
Lee Bierer, a nationally syndicated columnist and independent college counselor, apparently had access to a preview of the film and wrote in her column,
It’s a powerful film that shows the ugly underbelly of what happened to the college admissions process. It features reporters, independent educational consultants and the sailing coach from Stanford who pleaded guilty. Since William “Rick” Singer, the kingpin coordinator of the bribery scandal, agreed to plead guilty and share information with law enforcement officials, the documentary has the original taped conversations between Singer and his unknowing clients.
In our next post, we will tell of a much more important college admissions scandal – one that threatens our national security.