Authorities in Boston announced charges Tuesday against more than 40 people, including coaches at prestigious colleges and Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, as part of an alleged large-scale college entrance bribery scheme.
Documents unsealed Tuesday in federal court showed coaches at schools including Wake Forest University, Georgetown and the University of Southern California were charged as part of the scheme, in which coaches were bribed to admit students as athletes regardless of their ability, according to The Associated Press.
Update 1:15 p.m. EDT March 12: U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a news conference Tuesday that the $25 million federal bribery case is the biggest college admissions scam to be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” he said.
At least nine athletic coaches and dozens of parents were among those charged in an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, federal authorities said.
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.
Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children’s admission, officials said.
“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected,” Lelling said.
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT March 12: Authorities said Loughlin and Huffman were arrested early Tuesday in Los Angeles without incident.
The New York Daily News reported the actresses were expected to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.
Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 12: In a letter sent Tuesday to students, USC President Wanda Austin said the university had “no reason to believe that Admissions employees or senior administrators were aware of the scheme or took part in any wrongdoing.” A long-time employee of the school’s athletic department, a current coach and three former coaching staff were involved in the scheme, according to authorities.
“The government has repeatedly informed us that it views USC as a victim and that these employees purposefully deceived USC,” Austin said.