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Florida man in college admission scam changes attorneys, accused of not paying legal fees

Posted at 9:14 AM, Jun 05, 2019

PALMETTO, Fla. — The Palmetto man who admitted he was "the really smart guy" who helped wealthy parents cheat their children's way into prestigious colleges has switched attorneys and is now being accusing of stiffing one of them.

Mark Riddell's Tampa-based attorney, Ben Stechschulte, officially filed the paperwork to withdraw from Riddell's criminal case on Wednesday afternoon. When reached over the phone, Stechschulte told Investigative Reporter Katie LaGrone, "Mark Riddell and I have differing opinions on how to move forward."

Stechschulte was seen walking into a Boston federal courtroom last month with Riddell. That's when 36-year old Riddell, a Harvard graduate, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with the now infamous college cheating scandal.

In exchange for a plea deal, Riddell admitted he cashed in by taking college entrance exams for the children of wealthy parents to help guarantee the student's entry into a prestigious college.

Riddell also admitted that, at times, he would also get access to tests taken by the students so he could change wrong answers to right ones. The $25 million college admission cheating scandal has already resulted in multiple guilty pleas with participants including Hollywood actress Felicity Huffman and the scheme's organizer William Rick Singer.

According to the latest motion filed in the case, Stechschulte says that on May 9 he was asked to withdraw from the case through Riddell's new attorney Antonia Pozos of the Drinker Biddle law firm in Philadelphia. However, Pozos has yet to file the paperwork to make his new role with Riddell official.

In the motion, Stechschulte also accuses Riddell of not paying the legal fees he incurred with Stechschulte. According to Stechschulte's motion, Riddell, "refuses to abide by the financial terms of an agreement relating to the representation, specifically, the agreement concerning legal fees."

Neither Riddell's new or old attorney are commenting further on the decision to switch attorney or Riddell's alleged failure to pay up. Mark Riddell is also staying quiet. When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon Riddell said, "no comment" before hanging up.

Mark Riddell is still scheduled to be sentenced in July.

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