Boston, Massachusetts – The latest celebrities to be embroiled in an apparently widespread college admissions bribery scheme are Lori Loughlin, a well-known television actress, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer. But it isn’t just these celebrities that are being exposed by the authorities for their wrongdoings in relation to their children’s college admission aspirations.
Loughlin and Giannulli and 14 other parents have been charged with a new money laundering lawsuit last Tuesday, April 9, 2018. The move came in the heels of the admission of guilt by Felicity Huffman, also a well-known television and movie actress, a coach and 12 parents in the scheme. The scheme itself has involved wealthy families, prominent names, and athletic coaches of prestigious universities including Georgetown University, Yale University, and University of Southern California.
Huffman, best known for her role in “Desperate Housewives”, and other parents were already charged in March 2019 for their involvement in the college admissions scheme. Authorities say that the scheme involved bribing athletic coaches and tampering with standardized test scores so as to allow applicants to be accepted for admission.
In the case of Huffman, she was accused of paying $15,000 Rick Singer, a consultant, to increase her daughter’s SAT score – a proctor apparently corrected the answers on her daughter’s test. The bribe was disguised as a charitable donation. Authorities say that Huffman also discussed making the same move for her younger daughter but eventually decided against it.
In a public statement, Huffman said, “My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
Huffman has also asserted that she takes responsibility for her actions and accept the consequences. She made the statement in her first public statement after her arrest.
William H. Macy, Huffman’s actor-husband, was also in the meeting with Singer when it was conducted in their Los Angeles home. Singer explained that he was in control of a testing center and he can have somebody secretly change their daughters SAT answers.
Authorities say that both Huffman and Macy agreed to the plan. But Macy wasn’t charged for his participation, unlike Huffman. Authorities haven’t explained the reason for it yet.
Along with Huffman, 12 other parents also pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. These charges carry the penalty of up to 20 years in prison but since they entered into a plea agreement, the prosecutors say that they will seek for a lighter sentence between four and 1o months for the actress.
Experts who have weighed in on the subject has said that they expect some of the parents to avoid prison time provided they accept responsibility for their actions and cooperate with the authorities.
The parents who have been charged have to return to Boston City in order to enter their formal guilty pleas. No new court dates have been set, however.
Aside from Loughlin and Huffman, other parents charged include well-known figures in finance, law, fashion, and the food and beverage industry, among others.
The Justice Department has said that it’s the largest college admissions case it has handled so far. The scheme has exposed the lengths, to which status-conscious parents are willing to go to give their children coveted spots in Ivy League universities, among others. The elite universities embroiled in the scandal have also been placed in an awkward position.
As for Loughlin and Giannulli, the couple are charged with paying a total of $500,000 in bribes for their two daughters to be admitted as crew recruits to the University of Southern California. This even as neither of their two daughters played the sport. The couple were not among those who agreed to a plea deal and they have yet to publicly address the accusations.
Bruce Isackson and Davina Isackson, real estate developers based in California, however, are pleading guilty in their participation in both the exam rigging and athletic recruitment schemes. Both are also cooperating with authorities for the possibility of a lighter sentence. They have also taken full responsibility for their bad judgment, according to their public statement.
Many prominent athletic coaches are also embroiled in the scandal.
Michael Center, the former coach of men’s tennis at the University of Texas, has also pleaded guilty to the charge. He has allegedly accepted nearly $100,000 in bribes from a non-tennis playing applicant for the latter’s admission as a recruit.
Gordon Ernst, a long-time tennis coach at Georgetown University, was charged with receiving $2.7 million in bribes from at least a dozen applicants although he has pleaded not guilty. Rudy Meredith, a former women’s soccer coach at Yale University, has pleaded guilty to the charge. John Vandemoer, a former sailing coach at Stanford University, has also pleaded guilty to accepting contributions to the program of up to $270,000 in exchange for recommending two applicants for admission.