WASHINGTON – The Justice Department on Tuesday charged more than 30 people – including two television stars – with being part of a long-running scheme to bribe and cheat to get their kids into big-name colleges and universities.
The alleged crimes, according to officials, 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.
Among those charged are actresses Felicity Huffman, best known for her role on the television show “Desperate Housewives,” and Lori Loughlin, who appeared on “Full House,” according to court documents.
Authorities said the crimes date back to 2011, and the defendants used “bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children’s admission” to numerous college and universities, including Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, and the University of California Los Angleles, among others.
Some of the 32 defendants are accused of bribing administrators to facilitate cheating on college-entrance exams – by having a smarter student take the test, 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 – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport they were purportedly recruited to play – thereby facilitating their admission to universities in place of more qualified applicants,” the complaint charges.
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. She ended up scoring a 1420 – 400 points higher than she had gotten on a PSAT taken a year earlier, according to court documents.
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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