College Cheating Scandal Unravels, Investigation is Long From Over

Over a month has passed since the college admissions scandal hit the news exposing more than 50 people in a trail of cheating, lies and bribes. The investigation has declared the scandal as the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice. 50 people have been charged by the Department of Justice for conspiracy that involved both cheating on college entrance exams (the ACT and SAT), and the bribery of college coaches to accept students as athletes when they were not.

LA times pic, some involved in scandal

Several of the people involved in the scandal. From left to right: Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin, Rick Singer, Felicity Huffman, Mark Riddell, John Vandemoer, Rudy Meredith. Photo Courtesy of LA Times.

As the investigation continues, confirmation of the scandalous activities has been spread. Matt Zapotosky, a National Security Reporter for the Washington Post, said the years of deceit flowed through the front man of the scandal, Rick Singer. “Parents would pay Rick Singer who would pay an exam proctor to look the other way while Rick Singer sent somebody in to either take the test for the student, or fix the student’s test afterwards. So they would get near perfect scores because this guy, this very smart guy, would go in and fix whatever they did wrong or just take it for them,” said Zapotosky.

Another scheme parents participated in revolved around using athletics to get their children into elite colleges. Parents would pay Rick Singer, and that money would go into a sham non-profit called “The Key,” which was considered to be an organization that was “helping disadvantaged students around the world.” Singer had relationships with college coaches, and would then pay them to fake the recruiting process for certain students in order to guarantee their admission. Singer paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to some college coaches.

According to CNN, “Three weeks since federal prosecutors announced their findings, four of the 50 people have pleaded guilty.” Among those include the following: Rick Singer admitted that he “created a side door that guaranteed families would get in”; former Yale Women’s Soccer Coach, Rudy Meredith plead guilty; Mark Riddell, who cheated for students on the SAT and ACT, plead guilty; former sailing coach at Stanford, John Vandemoer has also pleaded guilty. In addition, 13 parents who were charged also chose to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. Actress Felicity Huffman was among those parents who accepted the guilty plea. In exchange for taking the plea, prosecutors said “They will recommend a period of incarceration at the ‘low end’ of the sentencing range and will not bring further charges against her.”

Actress Lori Loughlin however, as of Tuesday, April 16, will not plead guilty. Rather than take the plea agreement accepted by Huffman, Loughlin is going to fight the charges.

loughlin court appearance

Actress Lori Laughlin appears in court. Photo Courtesy of axios.com.

Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to guarantee their daughters’ admission into the University of Southern California as rowing recruits. The couple, along with the other parents involved, “were previously facing a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and honest-services mail fraud. That charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison as does the money laundering charge,” said CNN.

The investigation is far from over, and as CNN explains, law enforcement officials have said more arrests are expected, and may include students. The Department of Education has opened an investigation of its own. In the midst of the scandal, the schools involved including Yale, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, and UCLA, are attempting to control the damage.

  • Emma Anderson / HLGU Vanguard / April 2019

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