Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among Hollywood actors charged in $25 million US college scam

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Full House actor Lori Loughlin were among 50 people indicted on 12 March in the US university scam

Agence France-Presse March 13, 2019 14:59:56 IST
Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among Hollywood actors charged in $25 million US college scam

New York: Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and fellow Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin were among 50 people indicted Tuesday, 12 March, in a multi-million dollar scam to help children of the American elite cheat their way into top universities.

Felicity Huffman Lori Loughlin among Hollywood actors charged in 25 million US college scam

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman (left) and fellow actress Lori Loughlin were among 50 people indicted Tuesday in the US university scam. Twitter

The accused, who also include chief executives, financiers, a winemaker and fashion designer, allegedly cheated in admissions tests or arranged for bribes to get their children into prestigious schools including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said.

They paid a bogus charity run by Californian William Rick Singer millions both to arrange for people to fix SAT and ACT entrance exams for their children, and also to bribe university administrators and sports coaches to recruit their children, even when the children were not qualified to play university-level sports.

Huffman, 56, and Loughlin, the 54-year-old star of Full House, were among 33 parents accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in joining the scheme.

Loughlin's fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli was also on the list.

Four people accused of running the scam, and 13 officials associated with university sports and the testing system were also charged.

The payments ranged from USD 200,000 to USD 6.5 million, according to Andrew Lelling, the US attorney in Boston, Massachusetts where the case was filed.

"Wealthy parents paid Singer about 25 million dollars in total," Lelling said.

Coaches, including the women's soccer coach at Yale University and the sailing coach at Stanford University, took between USD 200,000 and USD 400,000 to accept the students onto their teams.

"Some simply never showed up," he said. "Some pretended an injury and some played and then quit," he said.

None of the students were charged and most remain at the universities, he said.

"The parents and other defendants are clearly the prime movers in this fraud."

The investigation, which went on for one year, did not lead to charges against any universities.

"We have not seen the schools as co-conspirators," Lelling said.

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