HOUSTON — Two Houstonians were indicted on conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Court records say Lisa “Niki” Williams, 44, is an assistant teacher at a Houston high school. Her public defender declined to comment on the case.
Williams was also a test administrator for the College Board and ACT.
The lawyer for Martin Fox, James Kennedy, says his client is well-respected in the sports community in Houston and nationwide, and that he hopes the allegations against Fox don’t change people’s perspective of him.
Court documents say 62-year-old Fox is the president of a private tennis academy.
Prosecutors say Fox introduced the admitted ring leader of the scam, Rick Singer, to UT men’s tennis coach Michael Center. Center is accused of accepting a bribe to help get a student accepted to UT.
Williams is also accused of accepting bribes and allowing someone other than a student to take the college entrance exam for that student.
The students’ parents were Singer’s clients.
Federal authorities say for nearly a decade, Singer ran a scheme that allowed wealthy parents to cheat the admissions process so their kids could be accepted to eight elite schools.
College athletic coaches were also part of it, pretending that students were athletic recruits, to help with admissions, when in fact, some students did not ever play for the schools, competitively.
Singer is the founder of a college preparation business based in California. Court documents allege that parents paid Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 per test, for someone else to take the SAT or ACT exams, in place of their sons or daughters.
Singer also advised some students to seek quote "extended time on the exams, including by having their children purport to have learning disabilities, in order to obtain medical documentation.”
Big names, including Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, are among some of the parents and 50 people charged.
Williams was released on $20,000 bond. Fox was released on $50,000 bond, with special conditions, including no excessive alcohol use.
KHOU 11 reached out to HISD, asking for a response to its connection to the scandal. We received an automated response from the press office – saying it’s Spring Break – and the office and district is closed.
Both Williams and Fox have been ordered to be in federal in court in Boston on March 25th.
That’s when they will enter their formal “pleas” in the case. It’s not clear how they will plea.
Authorities say their investigation isn’t over and that more indictments are possible.
The following is the full statement from Martin Fox's attorney:
"Kent Schaffer and I represent Mr. Fox. At this time we are not going to be doing an in person interview regarding the charges filed in Massachusetts against our client. With regard to our position in the case, we are only going to say that our client is an extremely well respected member of the sports community both in Houston and nationwide and we hope that these allegations do not change anyone’s perspective of him given his years of countless hours in the industry. Our client understands the seriousness of the charges brought by the United States Attorney’s Office in Boston but has no comment about them, at this time."
HISD also released a statement Wednesday evening:
"We are aware that a staff member has been implicated. The Houston Independent School District does not condone any form of academic dishonesty.
"We will cooperate with authorities and we will look into this matter to determine if any of our students have been affected in any way."
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