The U.S. Justice Department on March 12, 2019, indicted 50 people, including two Hollywood stars in a multi-million dollar scam to help children of the American elite cheat their way into top universities.
The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams and bribing university administrators and sports coaches to say certain students were athletic recruits when those students were not in fact athletes, officials said. Many eminent schools were targeted, including Georgetown University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and UCLA, among others.
Of the 50 people accused of conspiracy, 33 were parents including Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and fellow Hollywood actor Lori Loughlin. The accused also includes chief executives, financiers, a winemaker and fashion designer. However, none of the students were charged.
The scam was discovered accidentally by the FBI while working an unrelated undercover operation about a year ago, officials said. That tip led to a sprawling, nationwide corruption probe.
Calling it the largest-ever college admissions scam prosecuted by the Justice Department, Boston's U.S. attorney, Andrew Lelling said that "These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege."
"This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I'll add there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either,” Lelling added.