The U.S. Justice Department announced charges against fifty high-powered parents on Tuesday, its largest ever college admissions prosecution to date. The accused were a part of an elaborate scheme and bought their children a spot at Stanford, Yale and other big-name U.S. universities.
The list included Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and other prominent Wall Street and business leaders. The investigation involved 200 agents across the United States and brought charges against 50 people across six states.
The parents, who U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling described as “a catalog of wealth and privilege”, falsified disabilities, bribed athletic recruiters and paid sums ranging from $50,000 all the way up to $1.2 million to help their children cheat on college entrance exams.
Mr. Lelling was categorical that the accused parents were the “prime movers of this fraud” and used their wealth to create a separate and unfair admissions process for their children. “The real victims in this case are the hardworking students” who were displaced in the admissions process by “far less qualified students and their families who simply bought their way in.”
Examples of the brazen scheme quoted by The New York Times include:
A teenage girl who did not play soccer magically became a star soccer recruit at Yale. Cost to her parents: $1.2 million.
A high school boy eager to enroll at the University of Southern California was falsely deemed to have a learning disability so he could take his standardized test with a complicit proctor who would make sure he got the right score. Cost to his parents: at least $50,000.
A student with no experience rowing won a spot on the U.S.C. crew team after a photograph of another person in a boat was submitted as evidence of her prowess. Her parents wired $200,000 into a special account.