WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice unveiled charges on Tuesday against participants in a scheme that saw wealthy people, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, use money to get their children into prestigious universities such as Yale, Georgetown and Stanford.
Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said that the “Varsity Blues” investigation uncovered admissions fraud on an unprecedented scale.
“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud,” he told a press conference in Boston.
The prosecutor said that charges were filed against more than 50 people, including athletic coaches, test administrators, parents and one university administrator.
The accused ring leader is William Singer, owner of a college counseling service called Key Worldwide Foundation, who accepted bribes totaling $25 million from parents between 2011 and 2018 “to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools,” according to the indictment.
Lelling said that the students were unaware they had been accepted into the universities thanks to bribes from their parents.
“The parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege. They include, for example, the 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,” he said.
“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected,” Lelling said.
Universities listed in the court papers include Yale; Georgetown; Stanford; the University of Southern California (USC); the University of California, Los Angeles; Wake Forest University and the University of Texas.
Huffman, one of the stars of the television series “Desperate Housewives, “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 ... to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,” the Department of Justice said.
In the case of Loughlin, known for her role in the series “Full House,” investigators found that she 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.”