ABC News just reported, 3/12/2019, that Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and a slew of chief executives are among 50 wealthy people charged in the largest college cheating scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, federal officials said Tuesday.
Those indicted in the investigation, dubbed “Varsity Blues,” allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said.
“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud,” Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a news conference. “There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy and, I’ll add, there will not be a separate criminal justice system either,” Lelling said.
According to Lelling, the ringleader of the scam is William Singer, owner of a college counseling service called Key Worldwide Foundation and a company called Edge College & Career Network. Singer allegedly accepted bribes totaling $25 million from parents between 2011 and 2018 “to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools,” Lelling said.
Singer of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court on Tuesday on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice, Lelling said. Singer would allegedly instruct parents to seek extended time for the children to take entrance exams or obtain medical documentation that their child had a learning disability, according to the indictment. The parents were then told to get the location of the test changed to one of two testing centers, one in Houston and another in West Hollywood, California, where test administrators Niki Williams, 44, of Houston and Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, California, helped carry out the scam, the indictment alleges.
Those charged in the probe include nine coaches at elite schools, two SAT and ACT exam administrators, one exam proctor, a college administrator and 33 parents, including Huffman and Loughlin.
In one case highlighted by federal prosecutors, the former head women’s soccer coach at Yale University, Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, was paid $400,000 to accept a student even though the applicant did not play soccer. The parents of that student had paid Singer $1.2 million.
Huffman was arrested at her home in Los Angeles, while Loughlin, who is in Canada, has yet to be taken into custody, sources told ABC News.
“Huffman later made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so,” the documents allege.
The documents say Loughlin — best known for her role as Aunt Becky on the ABC sitcom “Full House” — and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC.”
According to the indictment, the schools targeted included Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University and Yale University.
Ref. MSN/NBC News, washingtonpost.com, ABC News
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