Actresses Huffman and Loughlin charged in college bribery case

13 Mars, 2019, 13:53 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Actresses Huffman Loughlin among 50 charged in US college fraud scheme

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.

Mr Lelling said it was the largest college admissions scam to be prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

"These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege", Andrew Lelling, the USA attorney in Boston, said at a news conference.

"We're not talking about donating a building so a school is more likely to take your son or daughter, we're talking about deception or fraud", Lelling said.

The largest college admissions fraud scam unearthed in United States history was run out of a small college preparation company in Newport Beach, California, that relied on bribes, phoney test takers and even doctored photos depicting non-athletic applicants as elite competitors to land college slots for the offspring of rich parents, prosecutors said.

Authorities said parents paid the founder of the Edge College & Career Network approximately 25 million dollars to get their children into college.

The ringleader, William Rick Singer, has pled guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice in Boston. He could not be reached for immediate comment.

About 300 law enforcement agents swept across the country to make arrests in what agents code-named Operation Varsity Blues.

Unnamed sources cited in its report said Huffman, who appeared on "Desperate Housewives", knew she was going to be arrested.

Actress Lori Loughlin and four dozen other people were also named in the case.

Huffman, 56, and Loughlin, the 54-year-old star of "Full House", were among 33 parents accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in joining the scheme.

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None of the students were charged and most remain at the universities, he said.

When it came to getting their younger daughter, Georgia Grace Macy, 16, into a good college, the pair once again allegedly turned to Singer's scam for help.

Many parents pay handsomely for test preparation and have their children take the tests two or three times to better their scores.

"In many instances, the students taking the exams were unaware that their parents had arranged for this cheating", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

None of the children were charged on Tuesday.

Singer also helped parents stage photographs of their children playing sports or even Photoshopped children's faces onto stock images of athletes downloaded from the internet to exaggerate their athletic credentials.

In this case, however, the scheme either had someone take the test for the students, or someone fixed their tests to ensure high scores that would get them into highly desireable universities.

In one instance highlighted by federal prosecutors, it is alleged that the head women's soccer coach at Yale was paid $400,000 to accept a student even though the applicant did not play soccer.

Authorities said coaches in such sports as soccer, tennis and volleyball accepted bribes to put students on lists of recruited athletes, regardless of their ability or experience.

Court documents showed that Huffman and Macy met with a cooperating witness at their home in Los Angeles, where the witness told the couple he "controlled" a testing center for college entrance exams and could have their daughter's SAT answers secretly changed, AP reported.

Prosecutors said in court on Tuesday that some students also lied about their ethnicity on applications to take advantage of affirmative action.

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