– A former employee of the Houston Independent School District pleaded
guilty today in connection with her involvement in a scheme to use
bribery and fraud to facilitate cheating on the ACT and SAT exams.
Niki D. Williams, 46, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count
of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and honest services
wire fraud and mail fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani
scheduled sentencing for Dec. 21, 2020. According to the terms of the
plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence at the low end
of the sentencing guidelines, one year of supervised release, a fine,
forfeiture in the amount of $20,000 and restitution.
Williams administered the SAT and ACT exams at the public high school
in Houston where she worked. In exchange for bribe payments directed to
her by co-conspirators William “Rick” Singer and Martin Fox, and in
violation of her duty of honest services to the ACT and the College
Board, Williams allowed another co-conspirator, Mark Riddell, to
secretly take ACT and SAT tests in place of the children of Singer’s
clients or to replace their exam answers with his own corrected answers.
Williams then returned the falsified exams to the ACT and College Board
Singer, Riddell and Fox previously pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government’s investigation. Williams is the 41st defendant to plead guilty in this case.
Case information, including the status of each defendant, charging documents and plea agreements are available here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.
The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest
services mail and wire fraud provides for a sentence of up 20 years in
prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or
twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are
imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing
Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta,
Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston
Field Division; Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the
Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Mark
Deckett, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Education, Office
of Inspector General made the announcement today. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright, Kristen
A. Kearney, Stephen E. Frank and Karin M. Bell of Lelling’s Criminal
Division are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The
remaining defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt in a court of law.