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Desperate parents

US actress Felicity Huffman, who starred for years in the popular television show Desperate Housewives, is one of 50 people in trouble with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Along with fellow actress Lori Loughlin and others, Huffman has been accused of taking part in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme. Called Operation Varsity Blues by the FBI, the year-long investigation determined that a group of affluent parents colluded with certain American tertiary institutions to get their children into university, no matter how poor their Grades were.
On 12 March 2019, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, who currently serves as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, announced that his office had brought felony criminal charges against dozens of people, including university officials.
William Rick Singer, the founder of a California-based college preparatory company primarily designed to prepare students for higher education, has been singled out as a key figure who was paid $25 million over time by parents to fabricate eligibility for athletic scholarships for some student applicants; and to bribe college admissions administrators to up the Grades on specific college entrance examination results.

Singer has now pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy, and obstruction of justice charges.
On 8 April 2019, Huffman admitted in court that she was guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud as well as honest services mail fraud. She admitted further that she paid Singer $15 000 to enable her daughter to have ‘double time’ to complete an entrance examination (Huffman justified her action by saying her child has a learning disability, which is not true.) The payment was also made to ‘improve’ her
daughter’s entrance examination results. She could face jail time, a fine of $20 000 and 12 months of supervised release.
Colleges included in the collusion are Georgetown University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles. All of the institutions involved have meted out punitive measures to implicated staff members. No students will be prosecuted for their parents’ actions.
Lelling told the Washinton Post: “These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege. This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud.”

Category: Winter 2019

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