True Crime Files: Operation Varsity Blues | #College. | #Students


It has been two years since the Varsity Blues scandal first made headlines around the world. Fast-forward to 2021, Gina Silva takes a look back in our special series, FOX 11’s True Crime Files.

On Netflix, there’s a newly-released docuseries that highlights how rich and famous parents got busted in the college admissions scandal. The series, Operation Varsity Blues, has skyrocketed to the streaming giant’s top-10 list.

Not a surprise for the co-founder of White Collar Advice, Justin Paperny.

“We love to see them rise and we take some pleasure in their fall,” Paperny explained. “I certainly don’t.”

Paperny is featured in the film because several of those indicted in Operation Varsity Blues turned to him for help.

“My involvement in the case began when one of the initial defendants in the case retained White Collar Advice to guide them,” he said. 

Now, Paperny represents 10 families and coaches caught in the scandal. White Collar Advice is a company that helps people prepare for sentencing and prison.

“When these parents came to you, what did they say?” Silva asked.

“What is prison like? What is the food like? What type of job will I have? Will I be allowed to call home?” Paperny responded. “We sensed an opportunity in prison to begin educating people on how to better prepare for sentencing, prison but also live with a sense of dignity in the process. Because the waiting and wondering, while dealing with a criminal conviction, is very difficult.”

In Operation Varsity Blues, more than 50 people were indicted, all prominent and wealthy.

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William Rick Singer was a college consultant and the mastermind behind the college admissions scheme. He created The Side Door, which gets students in by bribing university officials, proctors and coaches. Singer also created a fake athletic resume.

Paperny said some of the suspects in the scandal felt remorse and/or embarrassment at some point.

That remorse, however, was too late for people like Liz Greenberg, of RowLA, who says those parents stole other people’s futures.

“I felt angry,” Paperny said. “I definitely felt cheated and angry.”

Greenberg is the founder and president of RowLA, a nonprofit that helps young women earn rowing scholarships.

“It isn’t like it’s on a silver platter,” Greenberg said. “They have to work really hard.”

After the cheating was exposed, Greenberg remembers a conversation with one of her girls.

“She said, ‘Liz, does this mean that she’s taking a spot from someone list myself?’ I said yes… and it’s a very, very unfair situation,” Greenberg recalled.

Meanwhile, ProPublica senior editor Daniel Golden argues that Singer’s so-called side door would have never existed without the well-known back door. Golden explains in his interview with Gina Silva:

In the end, Singer cooperated with the FBI and agreed to wear a wire to expose those involved in the scam.

Singer pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He is still waiting for details on his sentencing. So far, 30 parents have pleaded guilty as most have already served their sentence. 

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