Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged along with almost 50 other people Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centres to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said.
Authorities said coaches in such sports as football, tennis and volleyball accepted bribes to put students on lists of recruited athletes, regardless of their ability or experience. It's a serious matter, but it's still undeniably amusing that the woman who played "Aunt Becky" on one of the most popular sitcoms of the '90s is implicated.
Felicity Huffman (L) and William H. Macy attend the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
She and husband Mossimo Giannulli, also indicted, allegedly "agreed to pay bribes totalling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits" at the University of Southern California rowing team, according to the documents.
Neither of Loughlin's daughters participated in crew.
They're accused of handing over up to $6 million (according to Variety) to guarantee their children's admissions to several elite universities, including but not limited to Georgetown, Stanford, and Yale. Mossimo allegedly wrote to William Singer, who is accused of running the scam, in 2016.
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A rep for Loughlin told Yahoo Entertainment US she didn't immediately have a comment while Huffman and Macy's spokesperson has not yet responded to our inquiry.
Huffman, Loughlin and dozens of wealthy executives and lawyers were charged with participating in a "large-scale, elaborate fraud" to create a "rigged system" at prominent colleges like Yale, USC, Stanford and UCLA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
In Huffman's case, she "donated" $15,000 to Singer's fake charity Key Worldwide Foundation in 2017 for someone to set up a special testing site and date for her oldest daughter and then to fix the answers on the daughter's test. "Your parents' actions robbed a student from a position at this university".
Mr Lelling said it was the largest college admissions scam to be prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
The scheme aimed to take advantage of the two years of stress parents across the United States often endure as they put high school-age children through the standardized SAT and ACT tests needed to gain entry into heavily competitive colleges and universities.
In many cases, the students were not aware their parents had arranged for the cheating, prosecutors said, although in other cases they knowingly took part.
One of the cooperating witnesses, Rudy Meredith, was the head coach of the women's soccer team at Yale.