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Operation Varsity Blues: 33 parents charged in largest college admissions scam ever

Imagine pulling all-nighters, going the extra mile, and sacrificing your social life to have a full-ride to a premier university only for your classmate to have gotten there via a written check.

That’s what the Justice Department is said on Tuesday, as they charged 50 people — including television stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin— in the largest college admissions scam to date.

According to officials, the crimes include cheating on entrance exams, using imposters to stand in at exams and bribing athletic recruiters. The 50 people charged would say their children were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not in fact athletes.

Of those charged in the FBI’s investigation, Operation Varsity Blues, 33 were parents,  including a slew of wealthy executives and attorneys.

U.S. attorney, Andrew Lelling, spoke about how expansive this investigation is and told the Chicago Tribune it’s the largest college admissions scam prosecuted by the Justice Department ever.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” Lelling says.

“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.”

According to the report, the scheme was discovered on accident whilst working an unrelated undercover operation. Now, people are refusing to let this slide as tension surrounding formal education affordability and the paying of college athletes are brewing.

If you’re like me and needed Google to help remind you who Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are, let me save you the search.

Felicity Huffman was best known for her role on the television show “Desperate Housewives” and Lori Loughlin appeared on “Full House” as #auntiebecky. Neither has yet to release a statement.

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes so their two daughters would be disguised as recruits for the University of Southern California crew team — even though they’re not really athletes.

The students, however, were not indicted seeing that a lot of them didn’t even know this was happening.

In a statement, USC officials said the school is cooperating with the federal investigation and has launched its own review.

“We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university,” the statement says.

“USC is conducting an internal investigation and will take employment actions as appropriate. USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.”

And Huffman went “the fake scores route”  —  allegedly paying $15,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation so, her oldest daughter could participate in the scam. Reports say a confidential informant told investigators that he advised Huffman he could arrange for a third party to correct her daughter’s answers on the SAT after she took it.

She ended up scoring a 1420 — 400 points higher than she had gotten on a PSAT taken a year earlier.

A well-connected college admissions adviser and a central figure, in the scheme, is William Singer, who is accused of disguising the bribery scheme as a charity called Key Worldwide Foundation and collecting up to $25 million from 2011 to 2018.

According to officials, over this time span, he’d pay off college coaches or standardized testing officials for their help rigging the admissions process and pocketing the rest.

Admittedly, it is a bit ironic seeing the world’s wealthiest and most well-off still cutting corners as the conversation of reputations and dismantling systems of privilege merges to the forefront of topics that will be discussed in the 2020 election.

The full fallout of the scandal is yet to be seen as the names of college coaches, professors and administrators are sure to be outed in the near future.


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