Former president of private tennis academy sentenced in college admissions case


Date: November 13, 2020


Boston – The former president of a private tennis academy in Texas was sentenced today in connection with his involvement in a scheme to use bribery to facilitate the admission of applicants to selective colleges and universities announced Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations in Boston.

Martin Fox of Houston, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to three months in prison and 15 months of supervised release, with the first three months to be in home confinement. He must also complete 250 hours of community service. Fox was also ordered to pay a fine of $95,000 and forfeiture in the amount of $245,000. In November 2019, Fox pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering.

In 2015, Fox introduced co-conspirator William "Rick" Singer to Michael Center, a tennis coach at the University of Texas (U-Texas). Center facilitated the admission of a son of one of Singer's clients to U-Texas as a purported tennis recruit in exchange for a bribe. In return for assisting with the bribe transaction, Singer paid Fox $100,000.

Between 2015 and 2018, Fox also agreed with Singer and others to facilitate cheating on the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. Fox funneled bribe payments from Singer to Niki Williams, a test administrator for the ACT and SAT, for four of Singer's clients. In exchange, Williams allowed another co-conspirator, Mark Riddell, to purportedly proctor the exams, despite knowing that Riddell was not proctoring the exam consistent with ACT and SAT requirements. Singer typically paid Fox $25,000 per exam, a portion of which Fox funneled to Williams.

Singer, Center, Williams and Riddell previously pleaded guilty. Singer, Williams and Riddell are pending sentencing, and Center was sentenced in February 2020 to six months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen A. Kearney, Justin D. O'Connell, Leslie A. Wright, Stephen E. Frank and Karin M. Bell of Lelling's Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.