Lawyer gets 1 month for paying to rig daughter’s ACT exam

Collin Binkley
AP Education Writer

Boston – The former chairman of a global law firm was sentenced Thursday to one month in prison for paying $75,000 to rig his daughter’s ACT exam.

Gordon Caplan, 53, of Greenwich, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy in a deal with prosecutors. He is the fourth parent to be sentenced in a sweeping college admissions scandal .

Authorities say Caplan paid $75,000 to a college admissions consultant who then bribed a test proctor to correct his daughter’s ACT answers last year. Caplan said he kept the arrangement hidden from his daughter, who is now a senior in high school.

Gordon Caplan speaks to the media outside federal court, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Boston, after being sentenced in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. Caplan was sentenced to one month in prison for paying $75,000 to rig his daughter's ACT exam.

Prosecutors requested a sentence of eight months in prison, a $40,000 fine and supervised release. Caplan’s lawyers said he deserved no more than 14 days in prison, a fine and community service.

Caplan’s payment was on the upper end for parents who hired admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to cheat on their children’s college entrance exams. Other parents paid as much as $400,000 to get their children into elite universities as fake athletic recruits.

A Sept. 26 filing from Caplan’s lawyers says he “allowed himself to fall prey to his own ego and ambitions for his children.” His lawyers added that Caplan is “a broken man trying to pick up the pieces of a life that has been forever changed.”

Before his arrest, Caplan was co-chairman of the law firm Willkie, Farr and Gallagher in New York. He was placed on leave over the scandal and later resigned. Authorities in New York have moved to suspend his law license and are pursuing disciplinary action.

Court documents from prosecutors said Caplan displayed a “staggering disdain for the law” for a lawyer “who has reached the apex of his profession.” They drew attention to a July 2018 phone call in which Caplan discussed the deal with Singer and said he was “not worried about the moral issue.”

In court documents, Caplan’s lawyers called the remark “inexcusable,” adding that “this callous statement underscores Gordon’s sense of desperation to help his daughter and the degree to which his moral compass was out of kilter.”

Singer pleaded guilty in March and has not been sentenced. A total of 52 people have been charged in the scheme, including parents, college sports officials and others accused of orchestrating the scheme.

Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty, while 19 are contesting the charges, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake athletes.

Trials are expected to begin in 2020, but a federal judge announced Wednesday that he was delaying initial filing deadlines while lawyers sort through “voluminous” records tied to the case. Prosecutors said they have gathered more than 2 million documents and thousands of audio files, and are still collecting more through search warrants.