Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged along with over 40 other people Tuesday in a scheme that saw wealthy parents bribe college coaches and insiders at testing centres to help get their kids into elite American school, according to prosecutors.
"These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said when announcing the $25 million federal bribery case.
Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through February 2019 to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes, to fudge test scores and to have others take online classes to help increase their kids' chances of getting into these competitive, impressive schools.
"For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected," Lelling said.
Both actresses are former TV stars; Huffman was on the cast of ABC hit Desperate Housewives and Loughlin famously appeared as Aunt Becky in Full House. Both have two daughters; Sofia, 18 and Georgia, 16, and Olivia, 19, and Isabella, 20, respectively.
Loughlin, who was charged along with her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly gave $500,000 to have both daughters labelled as recruits to the USC crew team, even though neither participated. Nineteen-year-old Olivia, who has a popular YouTube channel, attends USC.
Court documents said Huffman paid $15,000 that she disguised as a charitable donation, so her daughter could partake in the college entrance cheating scam and a witness said Huffman and her husband of 22 years, actor William H. Macy met with them at their L.A. home to explain the details of the bribe scheme. The co-operator told investigators that Huffman and her spouse "agreed to the plan," though Macy hasn't been charged.
Macy recently opened up to Parade magazine about the anxiety over his eldest daugther applying for post-secondary educatoin, saying, "We’re right now in the thick of college application time, which is so stressful. I am voting that once she gets accepted, she maybe takes a year off. God doesn’t let you be 18 twice."
With files from AP