Mark Riddell, a 36-year-old Harvard University graduate, used his uncanny ability to boost scores fraudulently on college-entrance exams for teens of wealthy families participating in the scheme, according to federal filings.
“He did not have inside information about the correct answers,” the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, said after announcing Tuesday’s federal charges. “He was just smart enough to get a near-perfect score.”
Prosecutors say Mr. Riddell, who lives outside Tampa, Fla., was central to the cheating scheme. He has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud and a money-laundering-related charge, according to court documents, and is scheduled to appear in court in Boston in April.
After the charges, Mr. Riddell issued a statement apologizing for the damage and grief he caused. “I understand how my actions contributed to a loss of trust in the college admissions process,” he said.
Prosecutors said William Rick Singer’s testing scheme took place at least 30 times back as far as 2011. Of the 33 parents who were charged Tuesday, at least 16 are linked in court documents to Mr. Riddell, who was referred to as “Cooperating Witness 2.”
He has been helping with the investigation since February in hopes of leniency, federal filings say.