College Entrance Bribery Scheme Results in Dozens Indicted

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Federal prosecutors announced the culmination of an investigation into a college entrance bribery scam that has resulted in charges brought against more than 50 people in six states. The scheme involved over $25 million in bribes and a complex network of cheating to get the children of wealthy families into elite schools like Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, and USC. This marks the biggest college admission prosecution in government history.

A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office called the scheme a “nationwide conspiracy” leading to numerous arrests made. Those involved in the scheme include athletic coaches, parents, exam administrators, and Hollywood actors.

Prosecutors say that William “Rick” Singer ran the scheme through his company, Edge College & Career Network, based out of Newport Beach, CA. The company possesses a list of clients that ranged from business executives, lawyers, doctors, and included actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

The scheme began in 2011 when Singer set up a charitable organization, The Key Worldwide Organization, which existed for the purpose of funneling over $25 million in bribes to participants within the scheme. In exchange for said bribes, coaches and administrators agreed to identify the children of Singer’s clients as key designated athletes, gifted academics, or any other preferred category. Singer also arranged for students’ SAT and ACT results to be falsified by bribing test administrators. He claims the students as believed they were taking the tests legitimately, but that his test proctor would correct their answers afterward.

It has yet to be determined if the students who benefitted from this scheme had knowledge of their parents’ participation in bribery to get them admitted to preferred universities. US Attorney Andrew Lelling said, “The prime movers of this fraud” are the parents and other figures in positions of power. Universities will now have to conduct an investigation of their own to determine the validity of these claims against key staffers.

Most critical, however, is the possibility that legitimately qualified students were denied entry to programs while others gained entrance through fraudulent means. “For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected” said Lelling.

As the conspiracy continues to unravel, investigators are moving forward with the arrests of many who participated in the scheme. Implicated coaches have already been sidelined at universities like Yale and Georgetown, while other universities are reviewing their application processes that have allowed such corruption to occur.

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