Hollywood actresses among dozens indicted in $25m U.S. college scam

Sergio Cunningham
March 14, 2019

US Federal Authorities reportedly called this certain case the biggest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the US Justice Department, with the celebrity parents accused of paying almost $25 million in bribes.

The fraud scheme was run out of a small college preparation company in Newport Beach, California, that relied on bribes to sports coaches, phoney test takers and even doctored photos to land college slots, United States prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The mastermind of the scheme, William "Rick" Singer, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Singer pleaded guilty Tuesday, and his lawyer, Donald Heller, said his client intends to cooperate fully with prosecutors and is "remorseful and contrite and wants to move on with his life".

The consultant also hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students and paid off insiders at testing centers to correct students' answers, they said.

Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, as much as $6.5 million, to guarantee their children's admission, officials said. In an open letter, Mamet said: "That a parent's zeal for her children's future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment is not only unfortunate, it is, I know we parents would agree, a universal phenomenon".

Moreover, at least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance, fashion, and other fields, were charged. Dozens, including Huffman, the Emmy-winning star of ABC's "Desperate Housewives", were arrested by midday Tuesday.

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"Officially a college student!" she captioned an Instagram photograph she posted in September, which showed her in her USC dorm room decorated with items she had ordered from online retailer Amazon, which paid her for the post.

Loughlin was out of town at the time due to filming but has since turned herself in to authorities.

Prosecutors said the scheme began in 2011 and also helped children get into the University of Texas, Georgetown University, Wake Forest University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

"I was essentially buying or bribing the coaches for a spot", Singer said as he pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Three cooperating witnesses helped the federal authorities build their case against Singer and the participants in the scheme, which reportedly included recordings of Huffman and emails from Loughlin. Several of the colleges involved made no mention of taking any action against the students.

Those involved could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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