Our private tutors in Orange County learned on Tuesday that actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, and more than 48 other individuals have been charged in a nationwide college admissions scam. The latter involved wealthy parents allegedly paying as much as $6.5 million to secure entrance for their children into elite universities.
The alleged cheating scam purportedly placed many students into top colleges, such as the University of Texas, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Georgetown and Yale. The scheme was masterminded by an individual by the name of William Rick Singer and was nicknamed “Operation Varsity Blues” by officials who investigated the case for over a year. According to documents recently unsealed in Boston, Singer assisted parents to acquire college admission for their children through bribes. Singer pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Boston federal court to charges including obstruction of justice, racketeering, and conspiracy.
Over a dozen people, including Huffman and Mossimo Giannulli, the latter of whom is Loughlin’s husband, were arrested Tuesday morning.
According to United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, Singer ran a charitable organization named Key Worldwide Foundation that he allegedly used as a front to receive a total of $25 million to guarantee the admissions.
Also unsealed on Tuesday were racketeering charges against the coaches at universities such as USC, Wake Forest University, and Georgetown. Authorities stated that some students knew their admissions were the result of a bribe, while others did not take part in their parents’ scheme.
Lelling stated that it appears there is no involvement on the part of the schools, but the scam allegedly involved a significant amount of coordination among Singer and numerous parents. Singer created realistic looking fake credentials and parents would allegedly pay Singer a predetermined price, with full knowledge that the money would be used to secure college admission. According to the charging documents, the amount paid went to an ACT or SAT administrator or university athletic coach, who would then create a fictitious profile for the prospective student, regardless of his or her athletic ability. John Vandemoer, Stanford University’s sailing coach, and Rudy Meredith, Yale’s former head women’s soccer coach, were two of the coaches allegedly involved in the scam.
In certain cases, Singer and the coaches would have prospective students pose for photographs in sports uniforms or simply take face shots, which were then allegedly Photoshopped onto athletes’ bodies to support athletics-based admissions. Stanford University said that Vandemoer’s employment had been terminated as of Tuesday.
Singer would also allegedly assist his clients’ children by having other individuals take ACT or SAT tests on the applicant’s behalf. Up to $75,000 was wired to “charitable accounts” for each test taken. Singer purportedly discussed the desired ACT or SAT score with his clients, aiming for a score that was impressive, but not so high that it might raise red flags.
According to other court documents, Loughlin and Giannulli agreed to pay $500,000 worth of bribes in order to have their two daughters designated as USC crew team recruits to facilitate their admissions, despite the fact that neither girl participated in crew.
USC stated that its own internal investigation will soon be underway and The College Board released a statement promising to take the necessary steps to ensure that those who are honest and play by the rules will have a level playing field regarding entrance exams.
One of our private math tutors in Chino Hills mentions “I’ve helped tutor kids for the SAT and ACT for years now, and while I am not surprised that there’s some impropriety when it comes to the admissions process; a scheme of this magnitude is truly shocking. I feel for the kids that were unaware that these measures were taken on their behalf.”
The vast majority of students accepted to universities as part of the admissions scam are reportedly still actively enrolled at their schools. According to Lelling, the case is still under investigation, and there is a possibility that more coaches and parents may be involved.