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Largest College Admissions Cheating Scandal in History

Updated: Mar 31, 2019

Wealthy families get caught using money to fast-track their children’s acceptance into the colleges of their choice.

By Meg Taylor, News Editor

Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have been arrested for their part in the largest college admissions cheating scandal in history by bribing school officials to get their children accepted into prestigious universities.

The Justice Department unsealed indictments on the two actresses, along with 50 other individuals, in the nationwide college bribery scheme. Several of those indicted were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, which can result in up to 20 years in prison. Those charged paid university officials, athletic coaches and, in some instances, paid a Harvard graduate to take entrance exams for their children. Coaches arrested in the scandal passed off students as recruits for sports they did not even play.

The center of the scheme is prep organization The Key, founded by William Singer. He pleaded guilty to four charges including one count of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. A former Yale soccer coach had pleaded guilty before the documents went public and helped build the case against others.

“Between roughly 2011 and 2018, wealthy parents paid Singer about $25 million in total to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools,” stated Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts, in a press briefing. “Singer helped parents take staged photographs of their children engaged in particular sports.”

The court filings of the case contain hundreds of pages, describing various instances of this scam, including emails and transcripts from recorded phone calls. The 50 arrests made thus far include two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, one college administrator, nine coaches at elite schools and 33 parents. According to authorities, most students were unaware of their parents actions, so no students have been charged.

Huffman, known for her role as Lynette Scavo in “Desperate Housewives,” and her husband, actor William H. Macy, allegedly spent $15,000 on a cheating scheme to aid their daughter’s SAT test-taking. According to the affidavit, “Huffman's daughter scored 1420 on the SAT, an improvement of approximately 400 points over her PSAT,” which she had taken a year earlier.

A judge ruled late Tuesday that the actress could be released on a $250,000 bond. Huffman was also ordered to hand over her passport and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing at a Boston court on March 29.

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have been accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters labeled as recruits to USC’s crew team; neither of the girls are rowers. Following her husband’s release Tuesday, after paying a $1 million bond, the “Full House,” star turned herself into the FBI March 14. Later that day, Loughlin was released on $1 million bail.

Before turning herself in, Loughlin deleted her Instagram account. Her 19-year-old daughter, Olivia Jade, has been constantly harassed over social media; she made her account private briefly, but made it public again and removed the option to comment on her posts. Sephora has terminated their partnership with Olivia and Loughlin has been dropped by the Hallmark channel and Fuller House.

The influencer and her sister, 20-year-old Isabella Rose, have decided to withdraw from USC.


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