First parent pleads not guilty in biggest U.S. college admissions scandal


David Sidoo (2nd R) — along with attorneys Richard Schonfeld (L), David Chesnoff and Martin Weinberg (R) — speaks outside Boston federal court after pleading not guilty to charges of participating in the largest college admissions fraud scheme in U.S. history in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Ross Kerber

BOSTON (Reuters) – The figure at the center of the U.S. college cheating scandal spoke twice in the past decade at events hosted by Pacific Investment Management Co (Pimco), one of the world’s largest asset managers whose former chief executive is ensnared in the fraud, the company said on Friday.

Some Pimco employees also used William ‘Rick’ Singer’s “legitimate college prep services,” Pimco said in a statement.

“We have no information at this time, however, to indicate Pimco employees acted improperly in their private capacity,” Pimco said.

“Any such relationships with Mr. Singer are entirely the private affairs of individuals. However, Pimco holds its employees to the highest ethical standards, so any employee found to have engaged in fraud or any illegal activity would have no place at the firm,” Pimco said.

Singer, who last addressed a Pimco event in 2015, is accused by federal authorities of bribing athletic coaches and arranging for phony test-takers to secure clients’ children spots at elite universities. One of the parents accused of paying Singer in the alleged scheme is Douglas Hodge, Pimco’s former CEO, who left the company in 2017.

Some 50 people including prominent executives, Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, and college sports coaches have been charged in the scheme. Prosecutors say Singer made about $25 million over eight years by bribing coaches and arranging for phony test-takers to secure clients’ children spots at elite universities including Yale, Georgetown and Stanford.

Earlier on Friday, ousted Advantage Lithium Corp Chief Executive David Sidoo became the first of the 33 parents charged in the scam to plead not guilty.

Reporting by Ross Kerber, Nate Raymond, Alex Dobuzinskis, and Jennifer Ablan; writing by Scott Malone; editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bill Trott and Bill Berkrot

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