Federal prosecutors charged nearly 50 people who belong to wealthy families in a $25-million cheating scheme that helps their children to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.
The list of high-profile people includes Hollywood celebrities Felicity Huffman who starred in the TV show “Desperate Housewives” and Lori Loughlin, who appeared in the TV sitcom “Full House.”
Also found on the list are business executives including Douglas Hodge, a former CEO of investment management company PIMCO; Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of Willkie Farr, an international law firm, Agustin Huneeus, founder and CEO of the Huneeus vineyard in Napa Valley; and William McGlashan Jr., a TPG Capital senior executive.
The nationwide scheme involved massive cheating on SAT and ACT exams on behalf of the children of the accused. It also included bribing college officials and athletic coaches to draft students.
According to the indictment, most students and children do not know the fraudulent activity carried out by their parents, such as falsifying exam scores and creating bogus resumes and profiles to increase their chances of admission to the schools. Prosecutors did not include any students or colleges in the charge.
The cheating scandal’s ringleader was William Singer, founder of the college preparatory company Edge College & Career Network. The singer was arrested for running a fraudulent charity The Key Worldwide Foundation which he used to funnel the funds for the scheme. To carry out the plot, he edited photos of the students to make them look as competitive athletic recruits and bribing test administrators to doctor their test scores.
The singer pleaded guilty to four charges: racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., money laundering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.