Breaking: Feds Arrest Parents and Coaches in $25 Million College Admissions Bribery Scheme, Including Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin

**COMMERCIAL IMAGE** In this photo taken by Feature Photo Service for IBM: Lauded by the U.S. Department of Education and President Obama, the IBM-inspired P-TECH school in Brooklyn, NY, where teens earn both a community college degree and high school diploma in as little as four years, graduated 27 students last evening at the commencement exercises held by the New York City College of Technology (City University of New York's "City Tech") at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on June 2, 2016. Staring directly at the camera is Elisabel Herrera, one of the 2016 P-TECH graduates, who typically either continue on to four-year colleges or apply for jobs at technology companies like IBM. There are expected to be 60 IBM-inspired P-TECH schools in six states this fall. Nationally, less than 30% of students who enroll in two-year community colleges complete their associate's degree within three years, according to the U.S. Dept. of Education. (Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

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.”



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