On Tuesday, two women very familiar to soap audiences, actresses Felicity Huffman (Ex-Lynette, Desperate Housewives) and Lori Loughlin (Ex-Jodie, Edge of Night) are among dozens of wealthy parents, elite college coaches and college prep executives accused of carrying out a nationwide fraud to get students into prestigious colleges, according to a massive federal indictment that has been handed down.
According to prosecutors, the scheme was in two parts: either parents allegedly paid a college prep organization to take the test on behalf of students or to correct their answers. Then, the organization allegedly bribed college coaches to help admit the students into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their actual abilities. The documents also allege that some defendants created fake athletic profiles for students to make them appear to be successful athletes.
CNN is reporting: “As of now, 50 people were charged in the criminal investigation that went by the name ‘Operation Varsity Blues.”‘ Those arrested include two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents, according to Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts.
The parents were alleged to be from a “catalog of wealth and privilege,” including actors, CEOs, a fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm. “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy,” stated Lelling.
As to Huffman and Loughlin’s parts in the scandal: Felicity has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was arrested without incident at her home. Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to William Rick Singer’s fake charity the Key Worldwide Foundation to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs, the complaint says. Another cooperating witness told authorities he purportedly traveled from Tampa to a West Hollywood Test Center to administer Huffman’s daughter’s exam. She received a 1420 on her test, which was 400 points higher than a PSAT taken a year earlier without the same administrator, the complaint states.
Loughlin, best known to TV audiences as Becky on Full House, and now its reboot, Fuller House. is facing the same felony charge: conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
According to documents, the duo allegedly agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team, even though they did not participate in crew, the complaint said. The complaint includes emails between Singer and Giannulli in which the two discussed a “game plan” for his older daughter, whose academic qualifications were at or below the “low-end” of USC’s admission standards. Singer facilitated bribes to Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director at USC, who then got the students in to USC as recruited athletes, according to the complaint.
Giannulli was arrested without incident, and the FBI served a warrant for Loughlin, but she was not home at the time. She is on a flight to Los Angeles where she is expected to surrender at the Central District Court later this afternoon.
So, what do you think about this shocker involving Huffman and Loughlin, and the corruption via the those of privilege, wealth, and status? Share your thoughts on this developing story via the comment section below.