Corporate lawyer in U.S. college admissions scandals gets two-year law license suspension

February 19, 2021 11:58 AM EST

FILE PHOTO: Gordon Caplan, (L) co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher law company, facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, enters federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo


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By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) - The former co-chairman of a major New York law firm has been suspended from practicing law for two years after pleading guilty and spending time in prison over his role in the U.S. college admissions scandal.

Gordon Caplan, who had been co-chairman at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, avoided disbarment despite his efforts to avoid "getting caught," according to a Thursday decision by a New York appellate court imposing the suspension.

The suspension is retroactive to November 2019, when Caplan was initially suspended after pleading guilty. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Caplan is among 57 people charged by federal prosecutors in Boston over a scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with California consultant William "Rick" Singer to fraudulently secure their children's admission to colleges.

Singer has admitted to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to falsely portray college applicants as athletic recruits.

Thirty parents have pleaded guilty, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

Caplan, 54, pleaded guilty in 2019 to paying $75,000 to rig his daughter's ACT exam, by having an associate of Singer's pose as a proctor and correct the daughter's wrong answers. He served one month in prison.

Though New York automatically disbars lawyers convicted of state felonies or "essentially similar" crimes, Caplan was allowed to argue his federal crime did not meet that standard.

The five-judge appeals panel said was it clear Caplan's focus had been "not on the immorality and illegality of his actions but on not getting caught, and he continued with the scheme despite numerous opportunities to walk away."

But the court said Caplan has since displayed "palpable" shame, including through testimony that his time in prison was "horrific" and his crimes were due to "hubris."

"I destroyed my life," he said.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot)



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