College Admissions Scandal Co-conspirator Dead By Suicide

Robert Flaxman was found in his Malibu home three years after being sentenced for his role in the scandal

Robert Flaxman, the 66-year-old Beverly Hills real estate developer who pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a nationwide college-admissions cheating scandal three years ago, died by suicide in his Malibu home, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Flaxman, embroiled in the same nationwide admission scandal that led to prison time for Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman and Full House actor Lori Loughlin, was found dead in his residence in the 3200 block of Serra Road about 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 20. His death—first reported Wednesday by the real-estate news website The Real Deal—was ruled a suicide by the coroner’s office.

Flaxman made headlines in 2019 when his role in conspiring with scandal mastermind Rick Singer came to light. In October 2019, Flaxman was sentenced by a federal judge in Boston to one month behind bars and a year of supervised release for his role in what was dubbed the “Varsity Blues” scandal. He was also ordered to complete 250 hours of community service and pay a fine of $50,000.

Flaxman pleaded guilty earlier that year to federal counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. According to prosecutors, beginning in 2016, Flaxman conspired with Singer and others to have his daughter’s ACT exam corrected, thereby fraudulently inflating the score.

As part of the scheme masterminded by Singer, Flaxman took steps to secure extended time for his daughter to take the ACT and to take the exam at a test center in Houston that Singer controlled through a corrupt test administrator, prosecutors said. On Oct. 22, 2016, Flaxman’s daughter and the child of another client of Singer both took the ACT with the assistance of co-conspirator Mark Riddell.

Riddell, who admitted his role in the scheme, assisted in answering exam questions and instructed the students to answer different questions incorrectly so that the ACT would not suspect cheating. As a result of the cheating scheme, Flaxman’s daughter received a score of 28 out of 36 on the exam, according to federal prosecutors.

Two days prior to the exam, Flaxman made a donation of $75,000 to Singer’s sham charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, to pay for the fraud. After that, Flaxman deducted the bribe payment from his income taxes, defrauding the Internal Revenue Service.

The nationwide bribery scandal implicated dozens of parents and college athletic coaches. In addition to obtaining doctored test scores, in some cases, students were falsely admitted to elite universities as athletic recruits, even though they never had any experience in the sports for which they were being recruited.

Singer pleaded guilty in March 2019 to racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

City News Service contributed to this report

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