Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among at least 40 people, including 33 parents, charged in a large-scale college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court Justice Department documents unsealed Tuesday.
The alleged scheme focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to an indictment unsealed in Boston.
Loughlin, best known for her role in the sitcom “Full House,” and Huffman, who starred in the ABC hit show “Desperate Housewives,” were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, NBC reported.
The plot involved students who attended or were seeking to attend Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, University of Texas, Wake Forest, and Yale, according to federal prosecutors cited by NBC.
There’s no indication that the schools were involved in any of the wrongdoing.
In all, 44 people, some of them college coaches, have been charged thus far. The coaches include longtime UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo and USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, according to documents released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. Both are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Described by authorities as the mastermind of the plot is a man named William Rick Singer, who is expected to appear in court today, possibly to enter a guilty plea.
Officials said the plot involved cheating on entrance exams, as well as bribing college officials to say certain students were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not in fact athletes.
Some of the defendants are accused of bribing college entrance exam administrators to cheat on college entrance exams through a variety of means — by having a smarter student take the test for them, or by providing students with answers to exams or correcting their answers after they had completed the exams, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court.
Others allegedly bribed university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as “purported athletic recruits” — even though they did not play the sport they were purportedly recruited to play.
Parents paid up to 6.5 million dollars in bribes. Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to the Key Worldwide Foundation so her oldest daughter could participate in the scam. A confidential informant told investigators that he told Huffman he could arrange for a third party to correct her daughter’s answers on the SAT after she took it, The Washington Post reported. She ended up scoring a 1420 — 400 points higher than she had gotten on a PSAT taken a year earlier.
Huffman also contemplated running a similar scam to help her younger daughter, but ultimately did not pursue it, the complaint alleges.
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