College Admissions Scandal

Brooke Griffin, Staff Writer

Uncovered by a lead received from someone involved in a completely different investigation, a college admissions scandal was brought to light. Fifty parents, coaches, and even some famous actresses in six states were charged on March 12th by federal officials for bribing elite universities, such as Yale and the University of Southern California, to ensure a spot for their children. It has been going on since 2011.

More than three dozen people in multiple states have been taken into custody. Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are the two well-known actresses involved in this multimillion-dollar scheme. Felicity Huffman is best known for her role as Lynette Scavo on the ABC series Desperate Housewives. Lori Loughlin is known for her role as Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis on the ABC sitcom Full House and its Netflix sequel Fuller House. Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, has also been charged. Giannulli is an American fashion designer. Huffman was released on a $250,000 bond and Giannulli was released on a $1 million bond. Loughlin has not been arrested.

The Justice Department has called this scandal its largest ever college admissions prosecution. The powerful, wealthy parents and coaches allegedly paid a consultant, William Singer, to falsify academic and athletic qualifications and help their children cheat on exams like the SAT and ACT. William Singer, also known as Rick Singer, is the owner of Edge College & Career Network and the chief executive of the Key Worldwide Foundation. He has been charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction of justice. He appeared in court and pleaded guilty to all of these charges. The judge set his sentencing for June 19th and Singer was released on a $500,000 bond.

33 parents paid enormous sums of money to entities controlled by Singer without having to pay any federal taxes. These bribes were disguised as charitable donations to his nonprofit foundation so they could deduct them from their federal income taxes.

Singer presented his clients’ children as elite athletes. He helped them take staged photographs of their kids playing a sport. He also photoshopped some of them onto stock photos from the internet. He also bribed test administrators in Houston and Los Angeles to change the students’ test answers to be able to get the score he asked for them to get. The students were under the impression that they were taking their ACTs and SATs on their own. Singer was paid anywhere between $200,000-$6.5 million for these services. He accumulated a total of $25 million over 8 years, some of which went towards bribing coaches and test administrators.

In many of the cases, the students did not know that their parents were bribing the universities or lying about their credentials. Loughlin’s daughter, 19-year-old Olivia Jade Giannulli, isn’t speaking to her or her father and has gone to live with her boyfriend. She has been keeping a low profile since the unfolding of the admissions scheme. Federal prosecutors did not charge any students or universities. Loughlin and her husband are expected to appear in a Boston courtroom Wednesday, April 3rd.

According to Vulture, Loughlin was spotted for the first time since her indictment leaving a yoga class in Brentwood, Los Angeles, on Saturday afternoon, where she very nicely told the cameras she was unable to discuss the case. “I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you,” she said. “You can follow me around all day if you want, but I just can’t comment right now. But thank you for your time.” When the cameraman wished her well for her trial and family, Loughlin was even friendlier: “You have a beautiful day, thank you so much, thanks honey.”