CEOs and actors, including Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Full House star Lori Loughlin, have been indicted in a nationwide college admissions cheating scandal according to ABC News.
Huffman and Loughlin are two of the 50 people who are being charged in regards to the bribery scandal. Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, has also been charged. Huffman, Loughlin and Giannulli have been charged with conspiracy to mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
According to NBC Investigates reporter Andrew Blankstein, Huffman is in federal custody and was arrested at her home. There is an arrest warrant out for Loughlin who was not at home when authorities arrive and appear to not even be in Los Angeles at the time.
According to ABC News, the people who have been indicted “allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million” to get their kids admitted to elite colleges which include Yale, Stanford, UCLA, Georgetown, the University of Texas, Wake Forest, the University of San Diego, and the University of Southern California.
Court records of the indictment were unsealed in Boston federal courts on Tuesday. There are 200 pages of charging documents.
“Beginning in or about 2011, and continuing through the present, 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 in the District of Massachusetts and elsewhere, including Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, and the University of Southern California — Los Angeles,” the indictment said.
According to BuzzFeed, the cheating scheme involved cheating on SAT and ACT exams, cheating in classes, falsified college applications and bribing college administrators and coaches to recruit students as athletes.
The federal documents state that some parents bribed “college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as the actual students, and in others by providing students with answers during the exams or by correcting their answers after they had completed the exams.”
“In many instances, the students taking the exams were unaware that their parents had arranged for this cheating,” the FBI stated. The parents would abuse the disability accommodations so their kids would be able to have extended time and take the test in a private room and with the proctor that their parents hired to forge the test.
If parents weren’t paying to cheat on exams they were paying coaches and college administrators to recruit their kids as athletes. Officials were 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.”
Between 2011 and 2018, roughly $25 million in bribes were paid to coaches and college officials. Collegiate athletes are typically judged with different admission criteria than regular collegiate applicants. Recruited student-athletes whose grades and test scores are below the average are typically still considered for admission because of their athletic ability.
Some parents hired a third party to take classes for their children “with the understanding that grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students’ college applications.” While other parents submitted “falsified applications for admission to universities” that “included fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.”
The criminal charge also states that parents “use the facade of a charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribe payments.”
According to the charging papers, Huffman “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 … to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter.”
Huffman has two daughters with husband and fellow actor William H. Macy. Their eldest is Sophia Grace Macy and their youngest is Georgia Grace Macy. Macy is mentioned in the criminal charges as Huffman’s spouse, but he is not named in the charges or is being indicted.
According to the documents, Huffman was going to “pursue the scheme a second time” for Georgia, but then ultimately decided not to. Federal agents also have recorded phone calls between Huffman and a cooperating witness.
Loughlin and her husband Giannulli “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designates as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” the document states.
Federal agents also have incriminating emails from Loughlin regarding the bribery scheme.
Loughlin and Giannulli have two daughters together, Isabella “Bella” Rose and Olivia Jade. Olivia has a very popular beauty YouTube channel with almost two million subscribers and recently collaborated with Sephora. Olivia and Isabella were students at USC at the time the news broke but have both dropped out since the scandal.
Officials say that in most cases the children who were admitted thanks to the bribery scandal were unaware that was the reason for their admission.
“This case is about the widening corruption of the elite college admission through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud,” Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a press conference.
“There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy and, I’ll add, there will not be a separate criminal justice system either,” Lelling continued.
The other people who have also been indicted are, Gregory Abbott, Marcia Abbott, Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Jane Buckingham, Gordon Caplan, Michael Center, I-Hsin “Joey” Chen, Amy Colburn, Gregory Colburn, Igor Dvorskiy, Gordon Ernst, William Ferguson, Robert Flaxman, Martin Fox, Donna Heinel, Elizabeth Henriquez, Manuel Henriquez, Douglas Hodge, Agustin Huneeus Jr., Bruce Isackson, Davina Isackson, Michelle Janavs, Laura Janke, Ali Khosroshahin, Elisabeth Kimmel, Marjorie Klapper, Toby Macfarlane, Steven Masera, William E. McGlashan Jr., Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, Marci Palatella, Mark Riddell, Peter Jan Sartorio, Jorge Salcedo, Mikaela Sanford, Stephen Semprevivo, David Sidoo, William Rick Singer, Devin Sloane, John Vandemoer, Jovan Vavic, Niki Williams, John B. Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh and Robert Zangrillo.