Expert Test-Taker Mark Riddell Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy Charges In College Admissions Case

Scott ElsenGetty Images

At first glance, Mark Riddell doesn’t look much like a high school student. That’s because he’s actually a 36-year-old man. He was hired by Rick Singer, the alleged ringleader of the college admissions bribery case, to pose as wealthy high school students and take their SATs and ACTs for them. The scheme includes dozens of wealthy and influential celebrity parents who allegedly used bribery and cheating to ensure their children would get into the elite school of their choice. On Friday, Riddell pleaded guilty for his part in the scheme, according to Fox News.

Singer made approximately $25 million from the college admissions scheme, with more than 50 wealthy parents seeking his help to get their children into college. He bragged of his ability to ensure good test scores for college entrance exams in wiretapped conversations with his clients that have sense been obtained by the FBI.

“I can make scores happen. And nobody on the planet can get scores to happen,” he said.

His secret weapon was, of course, Riddell, who would reportedly be sent in to physically take the exams for the students or to correct their answers later. The price for the score boost was between $15,000 to $75,000 per student. After Singer obtained the funds from parents, he would pay Riddell his share using cash, Fox News added. The expert test-taker would then fly to test centers all over the nation to complete his end of the deal. He allegedly made $10,000 for each test that he took posing as a high school student.

Riddell knew the ins and outs of college entrance exams because he had personally worked behind the scenes preparing them. He was a Harvard graduate who previously worked as a director of college entrance exam preparation at a prep school in Florida.

Among those whose scores were edited by Riddell is the daughter of former Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman. Huffman has apologized for her part in the scandal and accepted a plea deal. She also stated that her teenage daughter was not aware of her efforts behind the scenes to ensure she got into her dream college.

Upon pleading guilty in a Boston courtroom, Riddell apologized for his role in the scheme.

“I want to communicate to everyone that I am profoundly sorry for the damage I have done and grief I have caused those as a result of my needless actions. I understand how my actions contributed to a loss of trust in the college admissions process,” he said.