Last April, financial executive Morrie Tobin was looking to strike a plea bargain with the FBI for allegedly scamming investors out of millions of dollars, The Los Angeles Times reports. In exchange for leniency, Tobin gave federal investigators an indirect tip about the “side door” scheme wealthy parents engaged in to get their children admitted to elite colleges.
One of the coaches facing charges in Operation Varsity Blues is Yale women’s soccer coach Rudy Meredith, who began working with William “Rick” Singer in 2015. While Meredith is accused of accepting about $860,000 in bribes to get multiple students into the university, Singer is actually the ringleader who put parents in touch with Meredith and other college coaches and administrators. Meredith and Tobin’s paths crossed in 2017, and together they hatched a plan to get one of Tobin’s daughters into Yale.
Tobin began making regular payments to Meredith, but he was arrested for a separate string of crimes in the middle of their transaction. To win points with the FBI, Tobin told them about his deal with Meredith. When the FBI sent Tobin to meet with Meredith — at a hotel room rigged with hidden video cameras — the coach dropped a name they hadn’t heard yet: Rick Singer.
That’s what kicked off the FBI’s scrutiny of the massive college scam, which they had no idea was going on. The FBI soon after secured permission from a judge to tap Singer’s phones. While listening in, they overheard Singer attempt to recruit more coaches in the “side door” scheme. They also heard Singer make sales pitches to several wealthy parents, promising college admissions or doctored test scores for tens of thousands of dollars.
In February, Tobin pled guilty to securities fraud and a conspiracy charge — crimes he would typically face up to 10 years in prison for, per sentencing guidelines. He was working on his public image in the months ahead, tweeting that he spent time volunteering at local nonprofits.
In exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors have agreed to ask the judge presiding over Tobin’s case to give him a sentence that hews closer to eight years, the minimum suggested sentence for his crimes. The L.A. Times reports that Tobin’s plea deal also requires him to forfeit $4 million to the government.