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U.S. Charges Dozens Of Parents, Coaches In Massive College Admissions Scandal

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Mockingbird    2,976

Federal officials have charged dozens of well-heeled parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in what the Justice Department says was a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat college admissions standards. The parents allegedly paid a consultant who then fabricated academic and athletic credentials and arranged bribes to help get their children into prestigious universities.


"We're talking about deception and fraud — fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials," Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a news conference Tuesday in Boston.


Lelling said 33 parents "paid enormous sums" to try to ensure that their children got into universities such as Stanford and Yale, sending money to entities controlled by a California man named William Rick Singer in return for obtaining false records and false scores on important tests such as the SAT and ACT.


Singer also presented his clients' children as elite athletes, Lelling said. "In many instances, Singer helped parents take staged photographs of their children engaged in particular sports," he said. "Other times, Singer and his associates used stock photos that they pulled off the Internet — sometimes photoshopping the face of the child onto the picture of the athlete" and submitting them to desirable schools.


"Singer's clients paid him anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million for this service," Lelling said. The alleged scheme, he noted, was uncovered after his office got a lead from someone who "was a target of an entirely separate investigation, who gave us a tip that this activity might be going on."


The scope of the case is massive — a total of 50 people have been charged in the admissions scheme. More than three dozen people in multiple states were taken into custody Tuesday as part of "Operation Varsity Blues," said Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston division, at the news conference.





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