Felicity Huffman Charged In College Cheating Scandal

What would you do to get your child into college? On March 12, news broke that actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were embroiled in a widespread college entrance cheating scandal that saw them pay large sums of money to fraudulently enhance their children’s applications. According to CNN, 50 people, including one exam invigilator, nine school officials, one college administrator and 33 parents, have been arrested following an FBI investigation called “Operation Varsity Blues.”

The indictment infers that William “Rick” Singer, the leader of a college prep programme dubbed “The Key” through his company Edge College & Career Network, was the orchestrator of the scandal. Singer amended SAT exam answers before they were sent to boards of markers, conned therapists into signing forms to give students extra time in exam rooms and bribed college coaches to widen team memberships to include those not previously deemed athletically suitable. Loughlin, who could not be arrested due to filming abroad, and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli reportedly paid $500,000 (£380,000) for their daughters to be enlisted by the University of Southern California rowing team. Neither young woman had rowed before, but the credits that team membership offered meant that it was worth the lie.

Huffman, who was recorded discussing the scheme with a co-operating witness, reportedly paid $15,000 (£11,500) to have an exam official from Singer’s company in the room as her eldest daughter took the SAT exam. She allegedly arranged to use the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so. She has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, but released on $250,000 (£190,000) bail.

“This is a case where [the parents] flaunted their wealth, sparing no expense, to cheat the system and set their children up for success with the best education money could buy – literally,” lead FBI investigator Joseph Bonavolonta told CNN of the case, which saw parents pay anything between $200,000 (£150,000) to $6.5 million (£4.9 million) in total for guaranteed admission into a school.

Singer, who supposedly made $25 million (£19 million) from the scam between 2011 and 2018, has been charged with racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He has pleaded guilty to all charges and plans on fully cooperating with the FBI, but could see a maximum of 65 years in prison and over $1 million (£760,000) in fines when he is sentenced in June. “I am responsible. I put all the people in place,” he said according to local news site Mass Live. The outcome of the parents and officials, from colleges including Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University and the University of Southern California, will be decided at the upcoming sentencing hearings.


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