Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among 50 snared in elite college cheating scam, authorities say

Felicity Huffman, left, and Lori Loughlin. (Getty)

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among more than four dozen people charged in a nationwide college admissions cheating scandal that involved paying up to $6 million to place their children into elite universities, according to court records revealed Tuesday.

The alleged scam -- which involved placing students in top colleges such as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, University of Southern California, UCLA and the University of Texas -- was run by a man in California, William Rick Singer, who helped parents get their children into the schools through bribes, court documents unsealed in Boston showed.

Most of the students did not know their admission to the school were due to a bribe, authorities said.

The children’s parents would pay a specified amount of money fully aware it would be used to gain college admission. The money would then go toward an SAT or ACT administrator or a college athletic coach who would fake a profile for the prospective student — regardless of their athletic ability, according to the charging documents.

On a call with a wealthy parent, prosecutors said, Singer, who owned the company Edge College & Career Network, summed up his business in this way: “What we do is help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school... my families want a guarantee.”

Singer would help his clients' children by having another individual take SAT or ACT tests on behalf of the students. Parents would pay up to $75,000 for each test and have them wire money to "charitable accounts."

"Singer used the purported charitable donations from parents, at least in part, to bribe two SAT and ACT test administrators," court documents stated.

Among the college coaches involved in the alleged scheme was Rudy Meredith, the former head women's soccer coach at Yale, and John Vandemoer, the sailing coach at Stanford University.

For one applicant, Meredith — who resigned from his position in November — created a fake athletic profile and said the person was a recruit for the Yale women's soccer team even though the applicant "did not play competitive soccer."

Singer gave Meredith $400,000 after the student was admitted to Yale, court documents stated.

Huffman and her husband allegedly helped their daughter with her college admission by making a “purported charitable contribution of $15,000...to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme,” the documents said. “Huffman later made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so."

The court documents also stated that "[Loughlin] agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team -- despite the fact that they did not participate in crew -- thereby facilitating their admission to USC."

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam