55 of America’s most famous and wealthy charged with largest college admission scam ever prosecuted
BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston announced today charges in what they describe as the largest college admission scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, charging 50 people for their participation in the scam.
Those charged include administrators, SAT/ACT test proctors, coaches and parents including two famous actresses, Felicity Huffman & Lori Loughlin and her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli. All have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
The scheme uncovered a network of college coaches and insiders at testing centers that accepted payments from wealthy parents to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, prosecutors said.
“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the $25 million federal bribery case.
Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant, William “Rick” Singer, 58, to alter test scores, have others take online course work, bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes to increase their chances of getting into the colleges of their choice.
Singer, is charged with racketeering conspiracy; money laundering conspiracy; conspiracy to defraud US; obstruction of justice and expected to plead guilty later today.
According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, Singer received $25 million total from wealthy parents to ensure their children got into their top choice of colleges. Which operated from 2011 through January of 2019.
The bribes allegedly came through an admissions consulting company Singer operated out of Newport Beach, California called the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF). Which operated as a non-profit, claiming to benefit underprivileged kids.
“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected,” Lelling said.
The racketeering conspiracy charges were brought against coaches at schools including Wake Forest, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.
A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.
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.
The Affidavit in Support of Criminal Complaint filed by Boston U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lori Loughlin, who is famous for her role on the sitcom “Full House” and her husband Mossimo Giannulli agreed to pay bribes to the tune of $500,000 in exchange for their two daughters to be designated as recruits to the USC crew team.
Neither of their children had participated in crew as a sport.
The affidavit alleges two days after their oldest daughter was accepted to USC as a crew recruit a payment was sent to the Senior Women’s Associate Director of USC in the amount of $500,000.
Additional payments were allegedly made for their younger daughters’ acceptance to USC bringing the estimated total bribe for admission of Loughlin & Giannulli daughters to $1.4 million.
“Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman allegedly paid $15,000 to KWF disguised as a charitable donation, so her daughter could take the SAT college entrance exam at a facility in which the test proctor corrected answers for better test results.
Court papers said a cooperating witness met with Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, at their Los Angeles home and explained the scam to them. The cooperator told investigators that Huffman and her spouse “agreed to the plan.”
A full list of those charged in the case are available here.