Dozens Indicted in College Admissions Bribery Case

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin sued for $500 billion over college admissions bribery scandal

Fifty people, including coaches at prestigious colleges and Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, face charges as part of a large-scale college admissions bribery scheme unveiled earlier this week by prosecutors in Boston.

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Documents unsealed Tuesday in federal court showed coaches at schools including Wake Forest University, Georgetown and the University of Southern California were charged as part of the scheme, in which coaches were bribed to admit students as athletes regardless of their ability, according to The Associated Press.

Update 12 p.m. EDT March 15: A California school teacher filed a $500 billion suit Thursday against Huffman, Loughlin and others involved in the college admissions bribery scandal, The Hill reported. Jennifer Kay Toy said her son, Joshua, failed to get into several of the schools involved in the scandal.

“Joshua and I believed that he’d had a fair chance just like all the other applicants but did not make the cut for some undisclosed reason,” Toy said in the fraud class action suit, filed in San Francisco, according to The Hill. “I’m outraged and hurt because I feel that my son, my only child, was denied access to a college not because he failed to work and study hard enough but because wealthy individuals felt that it was OK to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college.”

The lawsuit is one of at least two filed since authorities in Boston revealed the scheme Tuesday while announcing charges against 50 people involved in the scandal. Two Stanford University students have also sued, claiming they were denied a fair chance at admission to the universities targeted by the scheme.

Update 3:40 p.m. EDT March 14: Hallmark said it is ending its relationship with actress Lori Loughlin in the wake of the wide-ranging college admissions bribery scandal, according to The Associated Press.

Loughlin has been a longtime star of the Hallmark Channel and a major part of the network’s Christmas movies.

She has also starred in the network’s “Garage Sale Mysteries” movies and its “When Calls the Heart” series.

The network told the AP it was “saddened” by Loughlin’s alleged involvement in the cheating scam.

Hallmark Cards Inc. also said it is cutting ties with the actress and is “no longer working with Loughlin and has stopped development of all productions involving her,” according to the AP.

Cosmetics retailer Sephora also announced Thursday it is ending a makeup partnership with Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, Time reported.

Loughlin and husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get Olivia Jade and her older sister into USC as part of the crew team. 

Update 11 a.m. EDT March 14: Two Stanford University students filed suit Wednesday against schools embroiled in the college admissions bribery scheme, including USC, Yale University and the University of California Los Angeles, claiming they were denied a fair chance at admission, Bloomberg News reported.

In a complaint filed in federal court, attorneys for Erica Olson and Kalea Woods argued that through the scheme, “unqualified students found their way into the admission rolls of highly selective universities, while those students who played by the rules and did not have college-bribing parents were denied admission.”

The suit is seeking class certification to include all individuals who paid to apply to the university embroiled in the scheme and who had their applications rejected.

“Each of the universities took the students’ admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty,” the lawsuit claims.

Authorities continue to investigate the scheme.

Update 6:50 p.m. EDT March 13: Actress Lori Loughlin was released on a $1 million bond Wednesday afternoon after using her house as collateral, according to media outlets covering the proceedings in Los Angeles federal court.

Loughlin’s husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, also used a house as collateral to make bond during his hearing on Tuesday, according to the San Gabriel Tribune.

It’s unclear if the couple used the same home or different ones.

 

Loughlin was also allowed to travel to British  Columbia for film projects in Vancouver that run through November, the Tribune reported.

She was ordered to surrender her U.S. passport in December.

The newspaper also reported that the judge banned any communication with witnesses and other defendants in the case, but made an exception for Loughlin’s daughters, who could be called as witnesses, and her husband, who is also a defendant.

Update 6:30 p.m. EDT March 13: A Los Angeles judge ruled actress Lori Loughlin is free to leave jail on a $1 million bond, according to the Associated Press.

Loughlin is among 50 people, including stars, coaches and executives, caught in a college admission bribery scandal.

She turned herself into authorities Wednesday morning and made a court appearance in the afternoon.

 

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT March 13: Loughlin turned herself in to authorities in Los Angeles on Wednesday, one day after she was charged as part of a nationwide college admissions bribery scheme, according to The Associated Press.

She is scheduled to appear for a hearing in federal court at 2 p.m. PDT, CBS News reported.

 

Update 7:55 p.m. EDT March 12: Actress Felicity Huffman has been released on a $250,000 bond in connection with charges related to the college admissions cheating scandal, according to The Associated Press.

Huffman, whose husband, actor William H. Macy was by her side, appeared before a judge at the Los Angeles Courthouse Monday afternoon and was repeatedly heard answering “yes” to the judge’s questions, according to KCBS-TV.

 

Update 3:35 p.m. EDT March 12: William “Rick” Singer, the California businessman who founded the admissions consulting company at the center of the alleged college entrance bribery scheme, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Authorities said Singer schemed with parents, coaches and others to pay students' way into schools like Yale, Georgetown and Stanford University.

Prosecutors say parents paid Singer about $25 million to bribe coaches and administrators into pretending that their children were athletic recruits to guarantee their admission.

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT March 12: The NCAA is investigating after authorities announced charges Tuesday against 50 people accused of taking part in a college admissions bribery scheme.

The group said in a statement Tuesday that the charges made public Tuesday “are troubling and should be a concern for all of higher education.”

 

“We are looking  into these allegations to determine the extent to which NCAA rules may have been violated,” the statement said.

Most NCAA rules that regulate recruiting are aimed at preventing schools and coaches from giving improper benefits and enticements to athletes. In this case, parents were paying coaches to help students gain entry to college by falsifying athletic credentials and claiming that the students were being recruited to plays sports.

Update 1:15 p.m. EDT March 12: U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a news conference Tuesday that the $25 million federal bribery case is the biggest college admissions scam to be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

 “These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” he said.

At least nine athletic coaches and dozens of parents were among those charged in an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, federal authorities said.  

Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes, to alter test scores and to have others take online classes to boost their children’s chances of getting into schools.

Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children’s admission, officials said. 

 “For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected,” Lelling said.

Update 12:40 p.m. EDT March 12: Authorities said Huffman was arrested early Tuesday in Los Angeles without incident, NBC News reported, citing unidentified officials.

 

The New York Daily News reported that Huffman was expected to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 12: In a letter sent Tuesday to students, USC President Wanda Austin said the university had “no reason to believe that Admissions employees or senior administrators were aware of the scheme or took part in any wrongdoing.” A long-time employee of the school’s athletic department, a current coach and three former coaching staff were involved in the scheme, according to authorities.

“The government has repeatedly informed us that it views USC as a victim and that these employees purposefully deceived USC,” Austin said.

 

Original report: Authorities indicted Rudolph "Rudy" Meredith, the former head coach of Yale University's women's soccer team, on two counts of wire fraud for allegedly taking bribes to admit students to the school as recruited athletes.

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin criminal complaint by National Content Desk on Scribd

According to an indictment, authorities believe Meredith worked with William Rick Singer, a California businessman, and others to retain clients willing to bribe university coaches and administrators to admit their children to prestigious universities.

The indictment alleges Singer and Meredith concealed the payments by funneling them through Singer's charitable accounts.

Meredith served as the head coach of the Yale women's soccer team from 1995 to November 2018.

Arrest warrants have been issued for about 40 people involved in the college admissions scam, including renowned celebrities and influential business owners.

Authorities on Tuesday released a list of the people charged:

  • William Rick Singer: Racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US, obstruction of justice 
  • Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud; honest services wire fraud
  • Mark Riddell: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering
  • John Vandemoer: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Igor Dvorskiy: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Gordon Ernst: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • William Ferguson: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Martin Fox: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Donna Heinel: Conspiracy to commit racketeering 
  • Laura Janke: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Ali Khosroshahin: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Steven Masera: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Jorge Salcedo: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Mikaela Sanford: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • David Sidoo: Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud
  • Jovan Vavic: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Niki Williams: Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Gregory Abbott: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Marcia Abbott: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Gamal Abdelaziz: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Diane Blake: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Todd Blake: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Jane Buckingham: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Gordon Caplan: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Michael Center: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • I-Hsin “Joey” Chen: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Amy Colburn: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Gregory Colburn: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Robert Flaxman: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Mossimo Giannulli: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Elizabeth Henriquez: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Manuel Henriquez: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Douglas Hodge: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • Felicity Huffman: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • Agustin Huneeus: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Bruce Isackson: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Davina Isackson: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • Michelle Janavs: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • Elisabeth Kimmel: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Marjorie Klapper: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Lori Loughlin: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • Toby MacFarlane: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • William McGlashan: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Marci Palatella: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Peter Jan Sartorio: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Stephen Semprevivo: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • Devin Sloane: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 
  • John Wilson: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Homayoun Zadeh: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
  • Robert Zangrillo: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

See the court documents unsealed Tuesday:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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