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March 15, 2019
As of Tuesday, March 12, Full House star Lori Loughlin and Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman are among the 50 people charged with allegedly being involved in a bribery scam and nationwide college entrance admissions scandal. The scandal allowed privileged students to attend prestigious universities under false pretenses. According to court records released on Tuesday, parents spent an average of $6.5 million for elite universities to accept their children.
Officials have been investigating this “Operation Varsity Blues” case for over a year, as it is said to be the largest college cheating scandal ever prosecuted. The schools directly affected by this scandal are Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, University of Southern California, UCLA and the University of Texas at Austin.
Defendants allegedly paid millions collectively to get students into competitive schools by hiring certified SAT tutors to take the test for their children without their knowing. The children would go to their school and take the test with all the other students, but test proctors and tutors were bribed to change all their answers afterwards.
Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, are alleged to have disguised a $15,000 payment to a charitable donation to bribe a suspect in the crime. Additionally, they requested for their daughter to take her SATs away from her school.
Not only did these parents academically enhance their children’s application, but they also had athletic coaches create athletic profiles for their children showcasing how great of athletes they supposedly were.
Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are being accused of getting their daughters admitted to USC by paying $500,000 to the same suspect as Huffman and her husband, for them to be designated as recruits for the university’s rowing team, even though neither ever actually rowed.
Following the scandal, Sephora has terminated its makeup collaboration with Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade. Loughlin herself has been dropped from the Hallmark channel.
The primary suspect in question is life coach William “Rick” Singer. In 2007, he founded The Edge College & Career Network, LLC, otherwise known as The Key, a life-coaching and college-counseling for-profit business.
BuzzFeed News reports state that Singer received $25 million from wealthy parents over the course of his scam, and although much of the money allegedly went toward bribes or ACT and SAT exam cheating, he would record the money as tax-deductible donations to his charity.
As for Huffman, she was arrested on Tuesday in Los Angeles and released on $250,000 bail by the end of the day. Loughlin, on the other hand, appeared in federal court on Wednesday, and was released after posting a $1 million bond.
According to NBC News, Singer pled guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, racketeering and conspiracy. Singer will face a maximum of 65 years in jail.