The FBI reportedly uncovered the bombshell college admissions bribery scandal by accident while working on an unrelated undercover operation.
Officials say the sprawling, nationwide corruption probe dubbed Operation Varsity Blues was sparked when someone being interviewed for an unrelated case tipped authorities off.
Fifty parents and coaches have already been charged in connection with the plot that involved parents paying bribes of up to $6million to get their children into elite schools between 2011 and 2018, according to an affidavit filed in federal court on Tuesday.
Among those charged were Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman, Fuller House star Lori Loughlin, and a former tennis coach for the Obamas.
Boston’s US attorney Andrew Lelling warned that the investigation is ongoing and others could be charged.
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The FBI reportedly uncovered a bombshell college admissions bribery scandal by accident when they received a tip about it while working an unrelated undercover operation, officials say. That tip then led to a sprawling, nationwide probe in which 50 parents and coaches have been charged. Boston’s US attorney Andrew Lelling (center) warned that the investigation is ongoing and others could be charged during a press conference on Tuesday
The affidavit states: ‘Beginning in or about 2011, and continuing through the present, the defendants – principally individuals whose high-school age children were applying to college – conspired with others to use bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children’s admission to colleges and universities in the District of Massachusetts and elsewhere, including Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, and the University of Southern California – Los Angeles.’
‘This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth, combined with fraud,’ US Attorney Lelling said at a press conference after the affidavit was filed.
‘There can be no separate college admission for wealthy, and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.’
Desperate housewife: Huffman allegedly paid a $15,000 ‘charitable contribution’ ‘to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter’ (Huffman and Macy with their daughters Georgia and Sofia at the Golden Globes)
Full House star Lori Loughlin and Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman are two of the 50 parents charged in a plot to get their children into elite schools (Loughlin with daughters Olivia and Bella in February)
Officials say Operation Varsity Blues is only about a year old, but the case authorities were working on when the initial tip about the scheme came out is unknown.
Three cooperating witnesses were identified in the 200-page affidavit filed on Tuesday.
The first to cooperate in the probe, beginning in April 2018, has been identified as Rudy Meredith, head coach of women’s soccer at Yale.
Meredith, referred to in the affidavit as Cooperating Witness 3, allegedly pocketed $400,000 for allowing a recruit who had never once played the sport onto the team.
A second cooperating witness joined the probe in September 2018, and is referred to as Cooperating Witness 1 (CW-1) and was identified as William Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the entire scandal.
Prosecutors say Singer, founder of the college consulting business Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key, in Newport Beach, California, collected $25million from parents since 2011.
He then used that money to payoff or bribe individuals who could ‘designate their children as recruited athletes, or other favored admissions categories.’
A third cooperating witness who began working with prosecutors in February 2019 was identified as Mark Riddell, the director of college entrance exam preparation at a private college preparatory school and sports academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Riddell would allegedly take college entrance exams for students or correct their answers afterward, according to the affidavit.