The most sweeping college admissions scheme ever unearthed in the United States was masterminded at a small college-preparation company based in Newport Beach, California, prosecutors said. It relied on bribes to coaches, phony test takers and even doctored photos misrepresenting non-athletic applicants as elite competitors to gain admissions for the offspring of rich parents.
William “Rick” 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 runs.
“I was essentially buying or bribing the coaches for a spot,” Singer said as he pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. “And that occurred very frequently.”
John Vandemoor, a former Stanford University sailing coach who worked with Singer, also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
A Los Angeles judge ordered Huffman, who appeared in television drama “Desperate Housewives” and is married to actor William H. Macy, be released on a $250,000 bond. “Full House” sitcom actor Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was released on a $1 million bond. Huffman, Loughlin and Giannulli have been charged in the case but have yet to enter pleas.
Some 300 law enforcement agents swept across the country to make arrests in what agents code-named “Operation Varsity Blues.”
Prosecutors have so far named 33 parents, 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s business.
Other parents charged include Manuel Henriquez, the chief executive of specialty finance lender Hercules Capital; Gordon Caplan, the co-chairman of international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Bill McGlashan Jr., who heads a buyout investment arm of private equity firm TPG Capital; and Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of the investment management firm Pimco.
Representatives for the companies and for Huffman and Loughlin, either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
(Production: Simon Thompson)