Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among those arrested Tuesday, charged with cheating the college admissions process at eight sought-after universities, authorities said, Presstv Reported.
Some 300 FBI agents swept across the country to make arrests in what agents code-named “Operation Varsity Blues.”
It is the most sweeping college admissions fraud scheme ever disclosed in the United States, masterminded at a small college-preparation company based in Newport Beach, California, prosecutors said.
William Singer, 58, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges related to running the scheme through his Edge College & Career Network, which charged from $100,000 to as much as $2.5 million per child for the services, which were masked as contributions to a scam charity.
Singer pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors have so far named 33 parents, 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s business.
No students have been charged and authorities said some of them were unaware of the scams, although in other cases they knowingly took part.
“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” Andrew Lelling, the chief federal prosecutor in Boston, said at a news conference. “For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected.”
Huffman and Loughlin were among around 20 defendants who appeared Tuesday in a federal court in Los Angeles, California. All the defendants who appeared in that court were likely to be released on bond, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said.
Prosecutors said the scheme began in 2011 and also helped children get into the University of Texas, Georgetown University, Wake Forest University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Part of the scheme involved paying tens of thousands of dollars to exam administrators at two test centers to allow Singer’s clients to cheat, often by arranging to have wrong answers corrected or having another person take the exam.