TV Stars Among 33 Parents Slapped With Federal Charges For Paying Millions To Have Kids Accepted Into Elite Colleges

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

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| March 12 2019,

8:52 pm

Almost 50 people were slapped with federal charges for participating in a cheating and bribery ring to get their children admitted to elite universities.

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Fuller House’s Lori Loughlin were among the 33 parents who paid between $200K and $6 million to boost their children’s chances of getting into select colleges, according to The Associated Press. The targeted schools included Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admission through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud.”

Lelling says this is the biggest college admissions scam the Justice Department has ever prosecuted. In addition to the parents, nine athletic coaches were arrested and charged.

A total of 49 people were arrested, reports NBC News.

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The scheme was spearheaded by college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer who was paid to bribe coaches and college administrators. Students were labelled athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, to gain admission.

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

Rigging tests was another part of the scam.

Singer was paid between $15,000 and $75,000 per test to ensure high scores. He even encouraged parents to request "extended time on the exams, including by having their children purport to have learning disabilities in order to obtain medical documentation that ACT."

Singer also bribed test proctors Igor Dvorsiky and Lisa "Niki" Williams to allow Mark Riddell to take tests in the students’ place. Riddell received $10K per test. The scam, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by the FBI, started in 2011 and ended last month. Singer allegedly received $25 million in income. The Justice Department charged him with racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction of justice. The parents were charged with mail fraud while others received racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud charges.

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