Sweeping Indictment in $25 Million Admissions Bribery Case

By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 12, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Dozens of parents -- including famous actors, corporate executives, and a big firm attorney -- were indicted for defrauding college admissions.

The federal indictment names 33 parents, as well as top college coaches and administrators, in a $25 million bribery scheme to get students into major schools. They include Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest, Georgetown, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

According to the charges, the defendants paid as much as $75,000 for fake test scores and other ways to cheat admission standards. It's a long road to any convictions, but college admissions may never be the same.

Bribery Scheme

In United States of America v. Ernest, the federal indictment alleges racketeering conspiracy and seeks forfeitures involving The Edge College & Career Network and the Key World Wide Foundation. Prosecutors say William Rick Singer created the companies to funnel bribes in the criminal enterprise.

"Parents generally paid Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 per test, typically structuring the payments as purported donations to KWF that they wired or deposited into one of the KWF charitable accounts," the indictment says.

The government alleges Singer used the bribes to pay administrators at SAT or ACT test sites. They allegedly allowed students to fake disabilities for extra test time, stand-ins to take tests, and doctored exams.

Singer also bribed coaches to designate students as athletes for lower admission qualifications, according to an affidavit accompanying the indictment filed in Boston.

Sweeping Indictment

The 204-page affidavit details recruiting schemes that involved nine coaches at elite schools who were also charged. The sweeping indictment included actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and attorney Gordon Caplan.

Loughlin, of Full House" fame, allegedly paid $500,000 in exchange for having two daughters "recruited" to the USC crew team to grease their admissions. Huffman, of "Desperate Housewives," was taken into custody for "charitable contributions" to the enterprise.

Caplan, co-chair of Willkie Farr, allegedly paid $75,000 to coaches for a stand-in to take an admissions test for his daughter.

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