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Accused test taker in college scandal set to plead guilty

BOSTON — A Florida prep school administrator is set to plead guilty to taking entrance exams for students in a nationwide college admissions bribery scheme.

Mark Riddell is due to enter guilty pleas Friday afternoon to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering at federal court in Boston.

The 36-year-old Riddell oversaw college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy, a Bradenton school founded by renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri that bills itself as the world’s largest sports academy.

Documents say Riddell secretly took exams for students or replaced their answers with his own. Prosecutors say he typically was paid $10,000 per test.

Riddell was charged with nearly 50 other people, including celebrities and wealthy parents who allegedly paid bribes to get their children into elite U.S. colleges.

Riddell could have faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but prosecutors are recommending incarceration and a fine at the low end of guidelines.

According to federal prosecutors, Riddell played a key role in an arrangement hatched by William “Rick” Singer, an admissions consultant accused of orchestrating the scheme for years while catering to a rich clientele that included Hollywood stars and business executives.

Among dozens of others charged in the scandal are actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin; Loughlin’s husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli ; college sports coaches; athletic administrators; and CEOs.

Huffman will plead guilty May 21 to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score. Prosecutors have said they will seek a prison sentence on the low end of a range of four to 10 months.

The two Las Vegas parents charged in the scandal were indicted Tuesday in Boston, and both now face a count of money laundering.

Former Strip casino executive Gamal Aziz — charged as Gamal Abdelaziz, his legal name — and former San Diego media executive Elisabeth Kimmel each are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to gain their children admission into elite universities.

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