ST. PETERSBURG — One day after he pleaded guilty in federal court to helping rich parents get their children into elite colleges through sham tests and phony athletic profiles, William "Rick" Singer's pool membership kicked in at the North Shore Aquatic Complex.
The 58-year-old, at the center of a national college admissions scandal — stunning for its brazen deceit and celebrity players — has since swum at the public pool along the St. Petersburg waterfront on more than a dozen occasions, according to city records. He parks a black Porsche SUV beside the complex, with two paddle boards strapped to a roof rack.
His six-month membership costs $175.
A shirtless Singer declined to speak with a reporter outside the complex Monday morning.
He created The Key, a California-based college counseling business that catered to the upper class. From 2011 to last year, prosecutors say Singer turned the business into a sprawling criminal conspiracy, operating as a self-described "side door" to college acceptance at universities like Yale, Stanford and Georgetown. His clients included actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, both charged in the case.
The schemes were almost impossibly simple: Singer paid off supervisors for standardized tests like the SAT, along with a test taker who would sit in for his clients' children. Or he bribed Division I college coaches to list certain people as recruits in tennis, sailing, soccer and other activities, faking photos and profiles to gain admission for wealthy students who had never played the sports.
Parents paid him tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes never telling their children. Singer conspired with clients to disguise payments as charitable donations to The Key Foundation, billed as a service for "disadvantaged youth," allowing the couples to deduct the money on their taxes.
When the investigation trapped him, Singer turned on some parents and agreed to cooperate with the government. He appeared in federal court in Boston on March 12 to plead guilty and was released on $500,000 bail. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 19.
The conditions of Singer's release allow him to travel to Massachusetts, where he was charged; California; Florida; and, as of last week, Missouri, where his son attends college.
His pool membership in St. Petersburg became effective March 13, according to city records, though his connection to the area is unclear.
Court records identify Singer as a resident of Sacramento and later Newport Beach, Calif. His vehicle carries a California license plate, and property assessor records do not list him as the owner of any homes in Pinellas County.
But the suspended director of college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Mark Riddell, took standardized tests in exchange for thousands of dollars from Singer's business.
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Singer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. Court records show those charges could bring up to 65 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.
He also will forfeit millions of dollars from his business.
The Key's website now redirects viewers to a registry page, which explains that the domain name expired April 20.
Contact Zachary T. Sampson at email@example.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.