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Press Release

California Executive Pleads Guilty in College Admissions Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A California insurance and private equity executive pleaded guilty today in connection with using fraud and bribery to cheat on the ACT exam on behalf of his daughter.

Mark Hauser, 59, of Los Angeles, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21, 2021.

According to the terms of Hauser’s plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of six months in prison, one year of supervised release, a fine of $40,000 and restitution.

Hauser agreed with William “Rick” Singer to pay an amount, ultimately totaling $40,000, to facilitate cheating on his daughter’s ACT exam. As part of the scheme, co-conspirator Mark Riddell traveled to Houston, Texas, where Hauser’s daughter took the exam and purported to proctor the test. Instead, Riddell corrected the answers on the exam after she completed it. Two days later, Singer paid an intermediary, Martin Fox, $25,000, with the understanding that Fox would pass part of the payment on to Niki Williams, the test site administrator who allowed the cheating to occur. Singer also paid Riddell $10,000 for his role in the scheme.

Singer, Riddell and Fox have previously pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government’s investigation. Williams has agreed to plead guilty. The details contained in the court documents are allegations and the remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Case information, including the status of each defendant, charging documents and plea agreements are available here:

The charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Mark Deckett, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright, Kristen A. Kearney, Stephen E. Frank and Karin M. Bell of Lelling’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated September 21, 2020