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Houston residents arrested in nationwide college admissions scam

The bribery allegations range from some of the nation’s finest universities on the east coast to some of the finest on the west coast. The allegations also extend to the University of Texas and Houston, according to statements from the Department of Justice.

According to law enforcement officials, Michael Center, head tennis coach at the University of Texas at Austin, accepted a $100,000 bribe to designate an applicant as a recruited tennis player, though the student did not even play tennis. Center is one of 50 people charged with racketeering conspiracy in an alleged nationwide scheme to bypass the college admissions system and place the sons and daughters of wealthy parents in prestigious schools.

Two Houston residents are charged in the alleged scam: Lisa "Niki" Williams, an assistant teacher at a high school here and Martin Fox, president of a Houston-based tennis academy and camp.

According to the indictment, Williams accepted bribes from the scam’s alleged ringleader, William “Rick Singer,” who has pleaded guilty in the case. Prosecutors say Singer received approximately $25 million to guarantee wealthy parents that their kids would be admitted to schools such as the University of Texas, Stanford, Wake Forest, Yale, USC and Georgetown.

Singer reportedly told parents to claim that their children had learning disabilities that would enable the students to receive extended time to take entrance exams. He then arranged to have the students take the exams individually with administrators he had bribed in either Houston or California.

In some cases, Singer had a man take the exams for the students or replace the students’ answers on the tests.

According to court documents, Singer paid Williams, who administered the tests at a local high school.

Fox is accused of funneling funds from Singer to Williams.

Those facing white collar crime allegations should decline to speak to investigators and prosecutors until they have spoken with a Houston criminal defense lawyer.

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