Here Are The People Who Have Been Named And Shamed In The Notorious College Bribery Scandal

Much of the online commentary on the 2019 college admissions scandal has centered around actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. But while these women’s fame has undoubtedly propelled them to the forefront of the furore, they are merely two out of 50 or more individuals who have been accused of involvement in the scheme. And as it turns out, many of their fellow indictees are also pretty prominent people.

News of the so-called college admissions scandal broke in March 2019 when United States federal prosecutors revealed details of an investigation. Their criminal complaint indicted 50 people who were accused of committing fraud offences. And according to the authorities, the scheme of which these individuals had apparently been a part involved the bribery of examination officials and college coaching staff as a means of getting potential students into elite schools.

The plan itself, moreover, was reportedly initiated by William Rick Singer. An inhabitant of Newport Beach, California, Singer ran a college consultation business called The Edge College & Career Network. He was also the owner of the Key Worldwide Foundation – a non-profit group that was established to give educational opportunities to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Through Key Worldwide Foundation, Singer allegedly accepted over $25 million from parents. He is believed to have then used some of that cash to bribe college officials into securing places for his clients’ kids. And it’s been reported that Singer used two ploys in particular as a means by which to earn entry into these chosen schools: either through lying about a potential student’s sporting abilities or by cheating on entrance tests.

As a result of his alleged actions, then, Singer was subsequently charged with committing a multitude of crimes. He pleaded guilty to all the charges made against him, however, and agreed to cooperate with the FBI. That said, he could still potentially end up with a 65-year jail sentence and be forced to hand over a hefty $1.25 million penalty fee.

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But while Singer may have run the scheme, he wasn’t the only person involved that has been accused of breaking the law. In fact, a total of 50 people – including Singer – were reportedly arrested as a result of an FBI investigation known as Operation Varsity Blues. Those charged, meanwhile, included a college administrator, an examination proctor, a pair of examination administrators, nine college coaches and 33 parents.

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And perhaps one of the first people to be implicated as having taken part in the scheme is the ex-coach of Yale University’s female soccer team: Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith. While in his post, Meredith allegedly took on applicants as sporting recruits in exchange for money. One parent claimed, for example, that Meredith had requested $450,000 to secure entry to the college for their daughter.

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However, in a statement to Yale University’s campus network, the college’s president, Peter Salovey, wrote, “Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by a former coach who no longer works at the university.” Salovey also said he held the opinion that no other members of staff at Yale had been involved in the scheme.

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In addition, a number of other college sporting instructors are said to have employed financial ruses comparable with the one that Meredith allegedly carried out. They include John Vandemoer of Stanford University, Gordon Ernst from Georgetown University and Wake Forest University’s William Ferguson. Ali Khosroshahin and Laura Janke – both former female soccer trainers at the University of Southern California (USC) – have also been named in the federal indictment.

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But sporting coaches aren’t the only college officials to have been accused of wrongdoing as part of the admissions scandal. Exam administrators Lisa “Niki” Williams and Igor Dvorskiy have been implicated, too, of helping college applicants to cheat on entrance exams. Their alleged ploy required parents to request extra time for their children to complete their tests. The kids would then apparently sit these exams at schools to which Dvorskiy and Williams were linked.

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And when students arrived at one of these schools, they were supposedly assisted by Mark Riddell. Riddell was employed by a Florida school to help youngsters prepare for college entrance exams. But for his part in the scheme, he is accused of accepting bribes to sit the exams on behalf of students, alter test scores or give answers to applicants.

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Yet Riddell apparently answered the test questions he had honestly. Speaking in March 2019, Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, told the press that Riddell was “just a really smart guy.” He added, “[Riddell] didn’t have inside information about the answers. He was just smart enough to get a near-perfect score on demand or to calibrate the score.”

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Those who allegedly facilitated in cheating, then, were arrested in significant numbers in the wake of the college admissions scandal – with parents making up the largest proportion of those apprehended. And the indictment laid bare the lengths that some moms and dads may have gone to to secure top college places for their kids.

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Attorney Gordon Caplan is accused, for instance, of taking his daughter to a psychologist to have her diagnosed with a learning disability. That way, she would have been eligible for extra time on her college entrance test. In order to participate in the plot, Caplan also allegedly handed over $75,000 – which was disguised as a gift to charity – to Singer.

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And in April 2019 it was reported that Caplan planned on pleading guilty to the charges that have been laid out against him. In a statement obtained by The New York Times, he said, “I take full and sole responsibility for my conduct and I am deeply ashamed of my behavior and my actions. I apologize not only to my family, friends, colleagues and the legal bar, but also to students everywhere who have been accepted to college through their own hard work.”

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Elsewhere, insurance business executive Toby MacFarlane allegedly agreed to partake in bribery to have his daughter admitted to USC as a soccer team rookie. He also reportedly used the scheme to have his son admitted to the same college on the basketball team. In the end, though, MacFarlane’s daughter is said to have graduated from USC without ever having played a single soccer game.

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Another high-profile parent named in the complaint was Jane Buckingham. The Los Angeles native is the head of a marketing business with a focus on matters related to young people. With that in mind, the so-called “lifestyle guru” claims to be an expert on the millennial generation, and she has participated in media interviews that employ her purported knowledge of the youth market.

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In particular, Buckingham is accused of handing over $50,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation. This money was reportedly then used to have someone sit the ACT on behalf of Buckingham’s son. And the marketing mogul allegedly admitted that she would likely partake in a similar scheme for her daughter, who she apparently claimed was “not a great test taker.”

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Gamal Abdelaziz is yet another individual who has been named as supposedly having used a bribe to get his daughter into college. It is alleged that the former resort executive and casino operator sent $300,000 to USC athletic director Donna Heinel in order to have his daughter accepted into the school as a basketball player. Abdelaziz also reportedly made monthly contributions of $20,000 to Heinel.

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And Heinel’s name came up, too, in complaints against other parents. She herself is accused of conspiring to commit racketeering after allegedly accepting over $1.3 million in bribes, since parents supposedly paid her to have their children accepted into USC as athletes. Following the indictment, Heinel was dismissed from her role at the university.

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Prosecutors believe that Heinel also helped get Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli’s two daughters into USC. The well-known actress and her designer husband are accused of contributing a total of $500,000 in bribes. This sum apparently went towards having the couple’s girls be recruited to the university through its rowing club.

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Given her celebrity, Loughlin has seen her fair share of attention in relation to the college admission scandal. The actress has starred in a range of TV shows and films over the years but is perhaps best known for playing lovable Aunt Becky in the ABC comedy Full House. Following her indictment, however, she has been relieved from several of her prior work commitments.

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More specifically, Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $200,000 per daughter to the Key Worldwide Foundation after each one was admitted to USC. They also allegedly made two payments of $50,000 to Heinel, who included the girls as possible components of the rowing team. And according to the complaint, Loughlin and Giannulli falsified information for their youngest daughter’s crew profile.

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And it wasn’t just Loughlin that lost work after being named in the indictment. The actress’ youngest daughter, Olivia Jade, is a social media influencer whose contracts with TRESemmé and Sephora were reportedly severed as a result of her supposed link to the scheme. However, it is unknown if she was at all aware of the supposed plot.

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Reports suggested, too, that Olivia Jade had dropped out of USC because of concerns of being bullied. And while a spokesperson for the university later clarified that both Olivia Jade and her sister, Isabella, remained at the college at that point, they did however add, “USC is conducting a case-by-case review for current students and graduates that may be connected to the scheme.”

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Then – as has been well-publicized – actress Felicity Huffman was also caught up in the indictment. Huffman is perhaps chiefly known for playing Lynette Scavo in ABC drama Desperate Housewives. She was also nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 2005 film Transamerica, in which she played transgender protagonist Bree.

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And since 1997 Huffman has been married to the actor William H. Macy, who is arguably most recognized for his Oscar-nominated role in the Coen Brothers’ movie Fargo. Presently, though, Macy stars as Frank Gallagher in the Showtime comedy Shameless. He and Huffman also have a pair of daughters together: Sophia and Georgia.

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In 2018, then, Huffman allegedly paid $15,000 to Singer’s Key Worldwide Foundation to have Sophia’s SAT score raised. And in order to pull off the alleged scam, Huffman is accused of having her eldest child ask for additional time on the exam. Sophia then supposedly sat the test with a proctor who was involved in Singer’s scheme.

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The teenager apparently also benefitted as a result of the alleged ploy; the complaint explained, “Huffman’s daughter received a score of 1420 on the SAT – an improvement of approximately 400 points over her PSAT.” As of March 2019, however, it has not been confirmed if Huffman’s daughter had been accepted into college – nor is it clear if she was aware of the alleged scam when it was taking place.

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For her part, then, Huffman was ultimately charged with conspiring to engage in fraud. Consequently she was arrested in March 2019 then released after managing to secure a $250,000 bond. Huffman would later plead guilty to her charges in April 2019, upon which she also issued a statement apologizing for her wrongdoing.

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“I am in full acceptance of my guilt,” Huffman said in the April 2019 statement obtained by The New York Times. “And with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions. [I] will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.”

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Huffman added, “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them, and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college. And to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.”

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Huffman was apparently one of 14 who pleaded guilty in relation to the college admissions scandal on April 8, 2019. It was reported that the actress may have taken a plea deal – the terms of which are unclear. There’s a chance, though, that Huffman could get a more lenient punishment as a result of her decision; to wit, she may potentially serve just four months in jail rather than the maximum of 20 years.

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Loughlin and Giannulli, meanwhile, have also been charged after Giannulli was arrested in March 2019. Loughlin had been filming in Vancouver at the time of her husband’s apprehension but handed herself in to the FBI the very next day. Both she and her husband were later released on two separate bonds of $1 million each.

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In April 2019 TMZ then reported that Loughlin and Giannulli were offered a deal that would land them in prison for at least two years. However, the couple later pleaded not guilty to the charges against them – a move that brings with it the potential of raised sentences if they’re later convicted. According to some reports, the couple could potentially face 40 years of jail time.

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Meanwhile, the day after Huffman and other parents pleaded guilty to their respective charges, 16 more moms and dads – including Loughlin and Giannulli – were handed new indictments. And again, Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded not guilty.

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As of yet, it’s unclear what awaits parents such as Loughlin and Giannulli if they’re convicted of one or more of the charges leveled against them. “This is somewhat uncharted waters, because this is a really unique case,” former federal prosecutor Bradley Simon explained to The New York Times in April 2019. “We haven’t seen a case where dozens of parents are being hauled off into court before.”

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According to former district attorney Vassili Thomadakis, at least, it seems likely that Singer will face jail time – despite his cooperation with the FBI. He also expects the administrators and coaches who are convicted to each face short stints in prison. However, what is less clear is what sentences – if any – await the parents who are found guilty.

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Ex-prosecutors believe that punishments may vary between these individuals. In short, their outcomes will depend on how much they spent on the plot, their pleas and whether or not they cooperated with the investigation. “For folks who have these kind of the bigger payments that you see in the indictment, I think that they certainly face some prison time,” Thomadakis explained to The New York Times. “Especially if they take the case to trial and lose.”

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So with that in mind, it appears that the college admissions scandal may drag on for a while yet. And only time will tell what will happen to the parents involved in the scheme. However, according to some of their legal representatives, many moms and dads have vowed to fight their charges. And some of them are apparently even eager to have their versions of events heard in a court of law.

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