Actresses Lori Loughman and Felicity Huffman were among nearly 50 individuals who were charged in a federal indictment accusing wealthy Americans of taking part in a scam worth $25 million to gain access to elite universities for their children.
Prosecutors allege a company that facilitates college preparation, headquartered in Newport Beach, California, masterminded what they believe is the largest scheme involving college admissions fraud ever uncovered. The scheme involved fraudulent test scores, bribes to coaches, and phony photos to allow children from rich families to enroll in universities.
Fifty-eight-year-old Rich Singer is the owner of Edge College and Career Network. Singer pleaded guilty to running the scheme that charged from $100,000 to well over two million dollars to gain access to the desired institution for a kid who would not otherwise qualify. Singer set up a phony non-profit and had the payments masked as donations.
Singer explained on Tuesday while giving his plea to the court that he would bribe coaches to reserve a spot for a particular kid. Singer confessed to a range of charges that include money laundering, racketeering, and obstructing justice. He said he performed the service ‘very frequently.’
Huffman, who is best known for the role she played in Desperate Housewives, appeared in court Tuesday wearing a dark blazer and dark sunglasses. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she was joined in the Los Angeles court by at least 20 other defendants.
Huffman was released on the $250,000 bail set by Judge Alexander MacKinnon.
Thom Mrozek issued a statement on behalf of the U.S. Attorneys Office and said all of the defendants will be given the opportunity to secure their freedom with bail.
The latest scandal is one of many that has affected the admissions process to top-level colleges in recent years. Prosecutors in Boston charged a group of Chinese nationals with cheating on college entrance exams. The College Board, which administers the SAT, was embarrassed by a breach in security that made test questions available to students before they sat for the exam.
The current scandal has so far resulted in the arrests of 33 parents, 13 university athletic coaches, and a few people close to Singer.
Among the parents were a handful of CEOS and other members of upper-level management for some of the largest companies in America. No company representatives have been willing to speak on the matter as of yet.