Former President of Private Tennis Academy Pleads Guilty in College Admissions Case
BOSTON – Martin Fox, the former president of a private tennis academy in Texas, pleaded guilty today in connection with his involvement in a scheme to use bribery to facilitate the admission of applicants to selective colleges and universities.
Fox, 62, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for Feb. 14, 2020. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, one year of supervised release, a fine and restitution.
In 2015, Fox introduced co-conspirator William “Rick” Singer to Michael Center, a tennis coach at the University of Texas (U-Texas). Center facilitated the admission of a son of one of Singer’s clients to U-Texas as a purported tennis recruit in exchange for a bribe. In return for assisting with the bribe transaction, Singer paid Fox $100,000.
Between 2015 and 2018, Fox also agreed with Singer and others to facilitate cheating on the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. Fox funneled bribe payments from Singer to Niki Williams, a test administrator for the ACT and SAT, for four of Singer’s clients. In exchange, Williams allowed someone else to purportedly proctor the exams, despite knowing that this person was not proctoring the exam consistent with ACT and SAT requirements. Singer typically paid Fox $25,000 per exam, a portion of which Fox funneled to Williams.
Williams has pleaded not guilty. The charges against her are allegations, and she is 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: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.
The charge of racketeering conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater and restitution. 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; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright and Kristen A. Kearney, of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit, and Carol Head, of Lelling Asset Recovery Unit, are prosecuting the case.