By Ariel Steinsaltz
On March 12, the Justice Department announced its largest ever prosecution of counts related to college admission and charged 50 people with various white-collar crimes. Thirty-three wealthy parents, which included Hollywood celebrities and prominent business leaders were among the accused who allegedly used bribery and fraud to get their children into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University and the University of Southern California, according to The New York Times.
Among those involved were actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, various business leaders and athletic coaches at the colleges, who accepted bribes to pretend that students were top athletes in order to get them athletic scholarships to schools, The New York Times reported.
The parents and school officials who carried out the scandal, which expanded to six states, are accused by the Justice Department of “cheating the system,” as well as cheating harder-working students out of their chance at having a good education. None of the universities or students were charged in the scandal, with prosecutors saying many of the students “were not aware” of what their parents were doing, The New York Times reported.
Each parent involved in the scandal was charged with “one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of honest services mail fraud.” Some of the people involved have taken career hits and several of the students are having their admission reconsidered, while others are being allowed to remain, according to New York Magazine.
New York Magazine stated that Loughlin and her husband had their two daughters admitted to USC as part of the rowing team despite neither of them having ever rowed. Her younger daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, is reportedly not returning to USC and has been dropped by many of the companies for which she has advertised, such as Sephora and Estee Lauder.
Loughlin was released from jail on $1 million bail and has been dropped by both Hallmark and Netflix. “When Calls the Heart,” where she was a series regular, is on a “‘creative hiatus.’” Loughlin will also no longer appear as the character Aunt Becky in “Fuller House,” New York Magazine reported.
Other people involved in the scandal include Gordon Caplan, who paid Rick Singer, the fraud plan’s reported mastermind, to doctor ACT scores for his daughter by making a $75,000 donation to Singer’s foundation. Another parent, Bill McGlashan, allegedly paid Singer $250,000 to create a football career for his son despite his high school not having a football team. Transcripts also showed that McGlashan asked Singer to make sure his son was not aware, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Some also faked learning disabilities for their children so that they could get extended time on standardized testing. These accommodations are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act to give students with disabilities a fair chance at success. Singer took advantage of those accommodations to bribe a proctor who would allow cheating; he then paid a test taker to take the test for the student or change their answers, Fortune Magazine reported.