A former Yale University women’s soccer coach had already been taking bribes from the ringleader of a college admissions cheating scheme. Then, in the summer of 2017, he stepped out on his own, soliciting a hefty payment from a father whose daughter was seeking admission to the Ivy League school, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.
But what Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith didn’t know was that the father, a Los Angeles financial executive, was under investigation for securities fraud. After the executive’s home was raided by the FBI, he began cooperating with authorities and revealed that Meredith had asked him for a “six figure” bribe to get his daughter into Yale.
When Meredith and the executive met last April in a Boston hotel room, FBI agents were listening in, and heard Meredith mention a name they hadn’t come across before — William “Rick” Singer, now the admitted ringleader at the center of the college admissions cheating scandal that has led to charges against 50 people.
“Was that the first time you heard of Mr. Singer?” US District Judge Mark L. Wolf asked the prosecutor as Meredith appeared in federal court to plead guilty to charges related to the bribery scheme.
“Indeed it was,” Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen said.
When confronted with the evidence against him, Meredith, too, began to cooperate with authorities, helping to unravel a vast network of alleged bribes to gain admission to top schools.
Singer’s cheating scheme “wasn’t on our radar” before Meredith exposed it, Rosen told the judge. “We learned of that through Mr. Meredith.”
Dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, Meredith, 51, of Madison, Conn., looked solemn as he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, and a second count of honest services wire fraud. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 20.
When advised of his rights and whether he understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty, Meredith repeatedly said, “Yes, your honor, I understand.”
Meredith, who served as Yale’s women’s soccer coach from 1995 until November, admitted he accepted more than $800,000 in bribes between 2015 and 2018. Yale has since said that it had rescinded its acceptance of a student linked to the scandal.
Meredith admitted he received $400,000 from Singer. In return, he designated a high school senior who had never played soccer as one of his recruits, bypassing the standard admissions process and leading to her acceptance.
“Meredith knew that the information Singer provided him was false,’’ prosecutors wrote in court filings.
That student’s family allegedly paid Singer $1.2 million, prosecutors said.
Meredith also admitted that he solicited a $450,000 bribe from another prospective student’s father — the executive who cooperated with the FBI while facing a securities fraud investigation.
The executive was not identified in court, but several people familiar with the investigation have identified him as Morrie Tobin, who attended Yale University decades ago and played hockey at the school. He pleaded guilty to federal securities fraud charges in Boston in February and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4.
The bribery cases have attracted national attention and raised questions about the integrity of the college admissions system, with coaches and test administrators accused of helping wealthy students — including some with mediocre qualifications — get into some of the country’s top schools.
The parents of the students include wealthy businessmen and celebrities who are accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes as part of the scheme, including actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Singer either paid test administrators to help students score better on their ACTs or SATs, in some cases having someone take the test for them, or he bribed coaches to name students as athletic recruits to facilitate their admission, even if the applicant didn’t play that sport, according to court records.
He is slated to be sentenced in June. He has claimed the scheme earned him $25 million.
Separately, former University of Texas tennis coach Michael Center appeared in federal court Thursday before Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley.
He is currently charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.
Center is accused of accepting more than $75,000 in 2015 from Singer — including $60,000 in cash — to admit one student through the tennis program. The student quit the tennis team after entering the school.