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All you want to know about college admissions

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

An alleged cheating ploy on college admissions, to the detriment of $ 25 million, disavowed celebrities, started legal proceedings, led to several layoffs of school staff and business figures, and a national conversation on how wealth and privilege play in the college application process.

Here's what we know from the results of the FBI-led Operation Varsity Blues investigation, which lasted 10 months and resulted in charges against 50 people – including the scam-brain, his accomplices and his parents.

Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were among the 33 accused parents.

L & # 39; scam

The alleged scam was aimed at getting students enrolled in elite universities, even if they were not practicing sports, and helping them cheat or outsource their standardized university exams.

Some parents spent between $ 200,000 and $ 6.5 million to guarantee their children guaranteed admission to the school of their choice.

"This case concerns the growing corruption of admissions to elite colleges through the regular application of wealth, associated with fraud," said Tuesday the US Attorney General of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling.

"There can be no separate admission to college for the rich, and I will add that there will also be no separate criminal justice system," he said. he declares.


The plot involved students seeking to attend Georgetown, Stanford, Yale, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of San Diego, the University of Southern California, the University Texas and Wake Forest University, according to federal prosecutors.

Colleges are not the target of the ongoing investigation.

In addition, none of the students involved were charged. The authorities stated that many children did not know that their parents were paying to secure their places.

The brain

Prosecutors said the person who orchestrated this scam was William Rick Singer, founder of The Edge College & Career Network, LLC, also known as "The Key", based in Newport Beach, California.

"I'm absolutely responsible for that," 58-year-old Singer told US judge Rya W. Zobel in Massachusetts, Massachusetts. "I put everything in place, I put all the people in place and made the payments directly."

Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 65 years in prison.

Between 2011 and last month, parents paid Singer about $ 25 million to entice coaches and university administrators to "designate their children as recruited athletes," according to court documents. Singer said that he had helped provide 761 families with "side doors" of access.

Singer's associates would create fake sports profiles for students, and then support college coaches to reserve seats for athletes, the authorities said.

Singer also received between $ 15,000 and $ 75,000 per SAT or ACT that someone else would take for the children of wealthy parents. The singer bribed the test administrators to allow substitutes to take the exams, officials said.

In other cases, Singer would give students more time to pass standardized tests.

Singer eventually helped the investigators when he agreed to carry a thread to unravel the scam. The FBI had initially discovered evidence of "large-scale fraud" while it was conducting a separate secret investigation. The investigation began in May and involved 200 federal officials in six states.

The parents

Loughlin, best known for his role in the "Full House" sitcom of the '80s and' 90s, and Huffman, who starred in the hit show "Desperate Housewives," in 2004-12, have been accused of conspiring in to commit postal fraud and honest services. participation in the plan.

Loughlin and her stylist husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have agreed to pay $ 500,000 in bribes to bolster their two daughters' chances of being admitted to the University of Southern California, according to reports. court documents. Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, paid $ 15,000 for one of their daughters to have unlimited time to pass his security test, prosecutors said.

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