Famous names, from actresses to CEOs, have been arrested in a high-level national college admissions cheating scam, according to records unsealed, Tuesday, in Boston.
Among the individuals charged are actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin.
Authorities said they were two of the 46 persons arrested for paying bribes to get their children into elite schools, including Stanford, UCLA, USC, Georgetown and Yale.
The eight-year scamming operation began in about 2011 and has continued until now.
The defendants — principally individuals whose high-school age children were applying to college — conspired with others to use bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children’s admission to colleges and universities.
Also named in the indictment are William E. McGlashan Jr. founder and managing partner of TPG Growth, a Silicon Valley investment fund; wine baron Agustin Huneeus, Robert Zangrillo, CEO of venture firm Dragon Global, co-chairman of the notable law firm Willkie, Farr & Gallagher; Elisabeth Kimmel, owner of Midwest Television and a board member of Ballast Point Brewing and former Pimco CEO Doug Hodge.
At a press conference Tuesday, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling called the scheme the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.” He said the operation, allegedly run out of a Newport Beach, Calif., college-admissions coaching company, had several parts, including coaching applicants to cheat on SAT and ACT admissions tests and bribing athletic coaches to identify applicants as potential recruits who could be admitted under athletic waivers requiring lower academic standards.
Others charged include a senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California (USC), Wake Forest’s women’s volleyball coach, tennis coaches from Georgetown and Texas, Stanford’s sailing coach and the coaches of USC’s men’s and women’s soccer and water polo teams.
Per the indictment, they were allegedly bribed “to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits — regardless of their athletic abilities and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport they were purportedly recruited to play.”
Huffman, the Oscar-nominated actress, allegedly paid, together with her husband, $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation for her daughter to take the SAT at a “controlled” testing center where a special proctor would correct answers without the daughter’s knowledge. Huffman’s husband is the actor William H. Macy, who was not named or charged in the indictment.
Huffman and Laughlin were charged with mail fraud.
Huffman’s online brand, What The Flicka?, sells mugs that read “Good Enough Mom.” As of Tuesday morning, the mugs were deeply discounted.
Whatever happened to upper education admissions being based on grades, not big money?