NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – More than 50 people, including two celebrities and a lawyer from Connecticut, face charges for their suspected involvement in a college bribery scheme.
Federal investigators said parents rigged the system, paying anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars, to get their children into selective schools.
“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected,” said Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
One of those schools was Yale University in New Haven.
It took 300 federal agents to expose the decade-old bribery scheme. They called it the biggest college cheating scam ever prosecuted.
Investigators said more than 30 wealthy parents, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, Connecticut lawyer Gordon Caplan, and nine coaches were involved. Among those coaches was a former soccer coach at Yale.
Huffman was arrested on Tuesday, and Loughlin was taken into custody on Wednesday before noon.
The coaches are accused of using recruitment slots for students who had no intention of playing college sports.
William Singer, a college admissions consultant, was behind it all, according to federal officials. He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
“Numerous parents paid Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 to have someone either take the exam for their child or to correct their child’s answers afterward,” Lelling said.
Investigators said Singer mailed former Yale soccer coach Rudy Meredith a check for $400,000. They also said Singer used the Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit set up to conceal illegal payments, to wire the money.
According to court documents, Singer would take “Yale applicant 1’s art portfolio” then “‘revise’ the materials to ‘soccer.'”
He would then send an athletic profile falsely describing the applicant a “the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team.”
“It was really surprising,” said Mahea Heimuli, a student athlete at Yale. “They sent it in our team group chat and I was like ‘no way.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
James Maroney, a Yale graduate and state senator from Milford founded First Choice College, a test prep and advising company in Milford.
The company helps students prepare for and find the right school.
“I’ve seen from some of my friends who are upset, who’s kids are studying for the SAT and you’re working and doing things the right way, and some people have found a way around that,” said Maroney.
No students were charged in the case.
Authorities said in many cases, students were not aware of what their parents did.
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