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Man who allegedly aced tests for teens in college scam is Harvard grad, tennis pro and "really smart guy"

Lori Loughlin released on bond

A counselor at a sports-oriented prep school in Florida is "really smart guy" who took tests on behalf of students as part of the sweeping college bribery scandal, prosecutors said. Harvard graduate and unsuccessful tennis pro Mark Riddell was listed on the website of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, as the director of college entrance exam preparation, in a page that apparently was taken down on Tuesday when federal prosecutors announced dozens of arrests in Boston.

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Mark Riddell  WTSP-TV

Prosecutors say Riddell secretly took college entrance exams in place of students or corrected students' answers after they had taken the exam. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling described Riddell as "just a really smart guy."

"He didn't have inside information about the answers, he was just smart enough to get a near perfect score on demand or to calibrate the score," Lelling said of Riddell.

Court documents accuse Riddell of getting paid by admissions consultant Rick Singer who was collecting money from the wealthy parents, including Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.  

Singer typically paid Riddell $10,000 for each student's test, prosecutors said. 

In a statement released by his attorney Wednesday, Riddell said:

I want to communicate to everyone that I am profoundly sorry for the damage I have done and grief I have caused those as a result of my needless actions. I understand how my actions contributed to a loss of trust in the college admissions process.

I assume full responsibility for what I have done. I do, however, want to clarify an assertion that has arisen in the media coverage. I absolutely, unequivocally never bribed anyone, nor has the Information filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office charged me with any form of bribery.

I will always regret the choices I made, but I also believe that the more than one thousand students I legitimately counseled, inspired, and helped reach their goals in my career will paint a more complete picture of the person I truly am. 

The IMG website had identified Riddell as a "ranked ATP Tour tennis professional." ATP Tour records show he competed in 10 low-level tournaments between 2003 and 2005 — four in singles, six in doubles — and went 0-10 in matches, never winning a single set. His career earnings were $892. According to the ATP, Riddell never had a singles ranking, and his doubles ranking was never higher than 1,601st in the world.

Riddell had a 78-43 singles record and 92-46 doubles record while at Harvard, according to College Tennis Online.    

CBS affiliate WTSP-TV reports that IMG issued the following statement Tuesday night about Riddell's arrest: "Today we were made aware of the charges against Mark Riddell. Riddell has been suspended indefinitely as we investigate this matter. "