Admission Scandal Snares Celebs Among Others
Getting your kid into college by buying a building is a very old joke when it comes to the wealthy and institutions of higher learning. Tax fraud, racketeering, obstruction of justice, and money laundering are not nearly as funny.
Federal officials have charged actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and dozens of other parents with mail fraud in what the Justice Department says was a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat college admissions standards. They allegedly paid a consulting firm that fabricated academic and athletic credentials and arranged bribes to help get their children into prestigious universities.
“We’re talking about deception and fraud — fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials,” said Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
Lelling says 33 parents “paid enormous sums” to ensure their children got into schools such as Stanford and Yale, sending money to a man named William Rick Singer for faking records and obtaining false scores on important tests such as the SAT and ACT.
“Singer’s clients paid him anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million for this service,” Lelling said.
The scheme operated from 2011 through February 2019, he said, adding that in most cases, parents paid Singer between $250,000 and $450,000 per student.
“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” Lelling said. “They include, for example, CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”
The scope of the case is massive, with indictments or charges filed in Massachusetts, California, Florida, Texas, Nevada and several other states.
While the celebs will grab the headlines, some of the details are truly cringe worthy, such as faking learning disabilities, manufacturing athletic scholarships, and using stand-ins for stardarized test taking.
The investigation remains ongoing.