CEO’s Daughter ‘Gloated’ About Cheating on SATs During College Bribery Scheme: Prosecutors

By Zachary Stieber

The daughter of a California CEO “gloated” about cheating on the SATs, according to federal prosecutors.

FBI agents said they took down a nationwide college bribery scheme that saw rich parents bribe the Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key, in exchange for founder William Singer’s help on cheating on standardized tests, including the SAT; lying to gain admission to Yale University and other schools; and bribing college athletic coaches.

Manuel Henriquez, 55, chairman and CEO of Hercules Capital in Palo Alto, was indicted along with his wife Elizabeth Henriquez, 56. Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Hoffman were among the other 48 people charged. The Henriquezes surrendered to police on March 12, appeared in federal court, and were released on $500,000 bond.

While most of the children of the alleged criminals were unaware of the scheme, prosecutors said that the Henriquez’s daughter was aware of at least some parts of it.

Isabelle Henriquez was not identified by prosecutors but named through public information.

William "Rick" Singer
William “Rick” Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court in Boston after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on March 12, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

Prosecutors said (pdf) that the Henriquezes paid Singer $25,000 in order for one of Singer’s associates to “purport to proctor [Isabelle’s] SAT exam and correct her answers.”

The exam took place at a private college prep school in Belmont. Singer’s associate corresponded with Isabelle’s high school counselor, claiming that because he and his wife had just had a baby that he needed any work he could get. On Oct. 3, 2015, the exam took place.

According to the associate, who cooperated with authorities, “unbeknownst to the school, he sat side-by-side with the daughter during the exam and provided her with answers to the exam questions.

“After the exam, he ‘gloated’ with Elizabeth Henriquez and her daughter about the fact that they had cheated and gotten away with it,” prosecutors added.

Isabelle received a score of 1900 out of a possible 2400, an improvement of 320 points over the best score she’d previously achieved.

Due to the success of the gambit, the Henriquezes agreed to pay $75,000 for a similar arrangement for their younger daughter. She cheated on an ACT exam along with another student, having the same person purport to proctor the exam but, in fact, provide the correct answers. He also “directed them each to answer different questions incorrectly in an effort to conceal their cheating,” prosecutors said.

In lieu of the payment, Manuel Henriquez instead agreed to use his influence at Northeastern University in Boston, where he is an alumnus, to help Singer secure the admission of an applicant to that school. The applicant’s parents paid Singer $250,000 after their son was granted admission.

The Henriquezes again engaged with Singer to arrange for another person to facilitate cheating on three SAT subject tests and the ACT for their younger daughter, prosecutors alleged. The proctor in that case later told Singer that he provided the daughter with answers to certain questions. Singer told law enforcement agents that his associate was busy during that time purporting to proctor exams for two other students, while the new proctor was less expensive—$2,000 or $4,000 versus $20,000 per test—than the previous fake proctor.

The Henriquezes also allegedly utilized Singer’s connections to bribe Gordon Ernst, the head tennis coach at Georgetown University, “to designate their older daughter [Isabelle] as a recruited athlete, in order to facilitate her admission,” prosecutors said, citing emails they obtained.

Gordon Ernst, the head tennis coach at Georgetown University, in a file photo. (Georgetown University Athletics)

Singer drafted one email for Isabelle to later send to Ernst that stated, among other things, “I have been really successful this summer playing tennis around the country. I am looking forward to having a chance to be part of the Georgetown tennis team and make a positive contribution to your team’s success.”

Ernest received the email and forwarded it to an admissions officer, adding “Potential spot.” Singer later created an essay for Isabelle that included “talk about tennis,” in which he wrote for Isabelle that “[B]eing a part of Georgetown women’s tennis team has always been a dream of mine.”

The fraudulent SAT scores were part of the application. She was ultimately offered admission to the school. The Henriquez Family Trust later contributed $400,000 to Singer’s organization.

Singer sent a receipt to Elizabeth Henriquez that stated the gift would “allow us to move forward with our plans to provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth.” The trust later sent another $950,000 to Singer’s organization, prosecutors said.

Singer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a slew of charges, admitting he orchestrated the scheme. Sentencing is scheduled on June 19. Manuel Henriquez stepped down from his position at the Palo Alto company.

He and his wife are due to appear in federal court in New York on March 29.