The Associated Press reports that a group of 50 individuals were arrested for participating in a bribery plot where wealthy parents paid large sums of money to college coaches and testing center personnel to guarantee their childrens’ admission to top universities.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling “announced the $25 million federal bribery case” today and said, “These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege.” He said it was “the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department and said the investigation was dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.”
According to Lelling, parents paid anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million. The schools involved included Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles, and Yale.
Officials said that “a former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against the others.”
According to the Associated Press:
The bribes allegedly came through an admissions consulting company in Newport Beach, California. Authorities said parents paid the founder of the Edge College & Career Network approximately $25 million to get their children into college.
Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes, to alter test scores and to have others take online classes to boost their children’s chances of getting into schools.
Authorities said coaches in such sports as soccer, tennis and volleyball accepted bribes to put students on lists of recruited athletes, regardless of their ability or experience. That, in turn, boosted the students’ chances of admission.
Lelling said that “no students were charged, nor were the schools themselves targets of the investigation.” He added that the investigation was ongoing.
Actresses Felicity Huffman, who appeared in “Desperate Housewives,” and Lori Laughlin, best known for her role in “Full House,” were among those arrested. “Both were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.”
Other parents arrested in the scheme include “Gordon Caplan of Greenwich, Connecticut, a co-chairman of an international law firm based in New York; Jane Buckingham, CEO of a boutique marketing company in Los Angeles; Gregory Abbott of New York, founder and chairman of a packaging company; and Manuel Henriquez, CEO of a finance company based in Palo Alto, California.”
And included among the coaches who were charged was John Vandemoer, the former head sailing coach at Stanford.
We all know this goes on, but the lengths to which some parents are willing to go to “help” their children get ahead is amazing.
Lelling pointed out that, “For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected.”