Federal prosecutors charged 50 people on Tuesday in a $25 million scheme to help actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, CEOs and other wealthy Americans cheat their children's way into elite universities, including Yale and Stanford.
Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes to boost their chances of getting into college.
Of the other defendants, several are sports coaches or administrators at the University of Southern California, UCLA and Yale and Wake Forest universities. Both Loughlin and Huffman went through Singer to gain admissions into colleges for their children, authorities said. Huffman allegedly discussed a similar scheme for her younger daughter but ultimately decided against it.
In Loughlin's case, she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly paid bribes totaling some $500,000 for their two daughters to be accepted to the University of Southern California as members of the rowing crew team, despite the fact that neither had ever rowed competitively "or otherwise participate [d] in crew", according to charging documents.
TV actress Felicity Huffman was reportedly arrested by seven federal agents who had their guns drawn on March 12 after she was named a target of federal investigation into bribery in the college admissions process.
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Loughlin is best known for her role as Aunt Becky in "Full House" while Huffman is known for her role on "Desperate Housewives". The indictment says Huffman's daughter received a score of 1420 on her SAT ... an improvement of approximately 400 points over her PSAT.
"These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege", Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney in Boston, said at a news conference. "Thereafter, the Giannullis agreed.to use bribes to facilitate her admission to USC as a recruited crew coxswain, even though she did not row competitively or otherwise participate in crew", prosecutors wrote in the indictment.
Prosecutors allegedly have a recorded phone call between Huffman and the cooperating witness planning for someone to take the test for the actress's daughter.
"For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected", Lelling said. The parents of that student had allegedly paid Singer $1.2 million.
Singer also fabricated "impressive athletic profiles" for applicants to apply as athletes - knowing full well that universities have allocated slots for students who play sports.
Other parents include the founder and chairman of a packaging company for the food and beverage industry who lives in Aspen, Colorado, and NY.