Gordon Caplan, the former co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher accused of paying a bribe to rig his daughter’s ACT score, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court on Tuesday to a count of conspiracy. He faces a recommended sentence of eight months in prison.
The former law firm leader’s guilty plea did not come as a surprise. Caplan on April 5 announced his intention to plead guilty. The details of his agreement with prosecutors were publicly filed a few days later.
Caplan was one of 12 parents who agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as part of a large federal investigation into a college admissions scam.
Tuesday’s proceedings, where Caplan was accompanied by his lawyer Joshua Levy of Ropes & Gray, resulted in a sentencing date being set for Oct. 3. The guilty plea also sets the stage for the New York courts to disbar Caplan. Disbarment is automatic on the conviction of a felony, as long as the criminal conduct would also have been a felony under New York state criminal law.
Prosecutors said Caplan paid $75,000 to crooked college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer so that his daughter’s ACT answers would be corrected after she took the test, resulting in her getting a higher score.
“My daughter had nothing to do with this,” Caplan said in court on Tuesday, according to news reports.
His statement last month said his daughter had no knowledge about his actions and was “devastated to learn what I did and has been hurt the most by it.” He added, “My immediate goal is to focus on making amends for my actions to try to win back the trust and respect of my daughter, my family, and my community. The remorse and shame that I feel is more than I can convey.”
A spokeswoman for Willkie declined to comment. While Caplan was initially placed on leave at the firm, Willkie last month announced he was “no longer a partner” after Caplan said he planned to plead guilty.
Under the terms of his plea deal, Caplan’s offense level is 11, which results in a sentencing guidelines range of eight to 14 months for a first-time offender. Prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence at the low end of that range, plus a year of supervised release and a $40,000 fine.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani will do her own calculations of the applicable guidelines, however.
San Francisco resident Agustin Huneeus also pleaded guilty on Tuesday, admitting to taking part in the exam-cheating scheme and a fraudulent athletic-recruitment plot that Singer helped organize. Prosecutors recommend a term of 15 months behind bars for him, and his sentencing is set for Oct. 4.