A nationwide conspiracy involving dozens, including two celebrities, was uncovered by the FBI
On Tuesday the U.S. Justice Department officially charged dozens of people with various crimes revolving around a large college admissions scam. With charges including racketeering, bribery, tax conspiracy and obstruction of justice, many people involved in this scam can face years in prison and the students can possibly face expulsion from their respective universities.
According to an article by the Washington Post, “Boston’s U.S. attorney, Andrew Lelling, called it the largest-ever college admissions scam prosecuted by the Justice Department. Of the 50 people charged as part of the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues, 33 were parents, officials said, warning that the investigation is ongoing and that others could be charged.”
The goal of the long-running scam was to get the “privileged students” into colleges that they wouldn’t have been accepted to otherwise due to subpar academic performance. The people involved in this scam came from many different areas including admissions employees, athletic coaches, exam proctors and other school officials, but all cooperated to get specific students into certain universities.
William Singer, a college admissions advisor and the central piece in this entire scam, essentially suggested that parents bribe university admissions officials and then he would take those bribes out of the taxes of the parents involved. It is estimated that Singer took $25 million between 2011 and 2018 according to the Washington Post.
Singer took that $25 million and used it to pay certain college athletics coaches and admission officials to rig the acceptance process. Singer kept the remaining money for himself. It is expected that Singer will be charged with four crimes and face up to 65 years in prison for his role in the scam. He will also be subject to three years of a supervised release, a $1.25 million fine and a $400 special assessment.
Adding to the shock of this development, two of the people involved are well known Hollywood celebrities Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Laughlin, known for her role as Aunt Becky on the hit sitcom “Full House” and its 2016 remake “Fuller House” was charged with a felony bribery charge. She allegedly paid $500,000 to have her two daughters admitted as recruits to USC, according to USA Today.
Huffman, known for her star role on the hit television show “Desperate Housewives” has been charged as well. According to CNN, “Huffman, an Academy Award nominee, has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court paperwork filed Monday in federal court in Massachusetts. She was arrested without incident at her home, the FBI said.”
Singer said he feels “remorseful” and is “excited to cooperate,” but this is not likely to change anything regarding the legal process. This massive scheme has shed a negative light on some of the most highly looked upon educational institutions in the U.S.
More information will come as time goes on but it seems as if the FBI has already uncovered a large amount of the details that were a part of this well-organized admissions scam.