Major College Admissions Fraud Exposed


Actresses Felicity Huffman (left) and Lori Laughlin have been charged with felonies for their roles in the college admissions cheating scandals.

The FBI investigation Operation Varsity Blues has exposed a college admissions bribery conspiracy to influence student college admissions  at several prominent American universities and has resulted in the largest prosecuted college admissions scandal in U.S. history.  There have been 50 unsealed indictments or complaints issued, involving some high-profile celebrities and CEOs to college administrators and coaches. Many parents have paid anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million to have their children admitted to various colleges and universities where they otherwise would have not been accepted.

Those most notable of these parents are  film and television stars Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Both were charged with felonies including conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. In addition, during their six minute hearing this past Wednesday, both Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli waived their right to a preliminary hearing. They also agreed to several pretrial conditions, including surrendering their passports. They have yet to enter pleas in the cases against them. Four defendants involved in the college admission scandal have pleaded guilty and have agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. Those include William “Rick” Singer, the alleged mastermind and college counselor; Mark Riddell, who allegedly cheated on SAT and ACT exams for students; Rudy Meredith, former Yale University women’s soccer coach; and John Vandemoer, Stanford’s former sailing coach.

The alleged scheme has been ongoing for years, dating back to 2011. Singer, the accused plot’s mastermind, allegedly told clients that he created a “side door” for wealthy families to get their children into top U.S. colleges. “One was to cheat on the SAT or ACT, and the other was to use his connections with Division I coaches and use bribes to get these parent’s kids into school with fake athletic credentials,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a press conference in Boston. Singer was paid around $25 million by parents.

The University of Southern California (USC) is at the epicenter of the scandal, with some of the biggest names linked to it, while some of the other colleges involved include Stanford, Yale, Georgetown. All applicants connected to the cheating scam would have been denied admission, USC spokesman Gary Polakovic said.

“This will not set us back in any way,” USC Interim President Wanda Austin told New York Times last month. “We have parents who set a horrible example, and employees who clearly acted in a way that showed they need to be fired.”

USC announced that six student applicants in the current admission cycle would be denied admission to USC as a result of the admissions scandal. In the light of these issues, USC also noted that any funds received in connections with the scandal will be used to fund scholarships for underprivileged students.

The other universities involved have since distanced themselves from the accused involved in the scandal that have attended or worked at said universities. With the indictments issued and arrests made, those accused either have been or will shortly be arraigned and then either try to work out plea agreements or face trail and possible prison sentences.

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