Boston, MA– Nearly 50 people were charged yesterday morning in connection to a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. An investigation led by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling revealed that wealthy parents have been bribing college coaches and staff members at testing centers to falsify academic and athletic records in order to get their children into some of the best schools in the United States. Among these parents were Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced the $25 million bribery case in Boston Federal Court on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Lelling said at a press conference: "These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege." The criminal investigation, dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," charged 50 people including nine school coaches, two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, one college administrator, and 33 parents.
As prosecutors reviewed the evidence, they found that over seven years from 2011 to 2019, parents have been bribing coaches and administrators to falsify their children’s records, claiming that they are excellent athletes with exceptional test scores. Some parents went as far as paying anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million for other students to take their kids’ online classes for them.
False exam scores were submitted as part of their applications to several Boston schools including Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern University. At this point, prosecutors have not filed charges against the students who benefited from the scam, nor were charges issued against the schools the students attended. However, the investigation is ongoing and more charges may be forthcoming as additional evidence emerges.
Those arrested include coaches at schools such as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Southern California, and University of California, Los Angeles. According to court documents, a former Yale soccer coach plead guilty and helped out with the investigation.
The man at the center of it all is William Singer, the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, a private admissions consulting company. Singer accepted approximately $25 million in bribes to help these wealthy parents get their kids into elite colleges throughout the United States. He laundered the payments through his shell nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Organization.
According to court documents, Singer pleaded guilty to several charges, including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. He will be sentence in June.
Lelling stated: "There can be no separate college admissions systems for the wealthy. And I’ll add that there will not be a separate criminal justice system either."