The prosecutors from the Department of Justice have been calling the Lori Loughlin case the biggest college admissions assistance scam in the entire history of the United States of America. The case also ascribes to parents allegedly bribing coaches paying for standardized tests that have been forged for their children’s admissions in Ivy League American colleges. In what can be considered as a minor win for the public prosecution, ‘Fuller House’ actress Lori Loughlin did plead guilty and is now facing a prison sentence of close to two months.
Here is a college admissions scandal summary for the uninformed.
Key facts in the College Admissions Assistance Scam:
Orchestrator: The CEO of The Key, Rick Singer. (The Key is a company for college admissions prep)
Number of Families That Have Been Involved: 750.
The Amount of Money Spent: $25 Million
Duration of This Scam: 2011 to 2019.
The Schools that Participated In This Scam: Wake Forest University, Yale University, Stanford University, San Diego University, Georgetown University, Texas University, USC, and UCLA.
Timeline of the college admissions assistance scam
March 12: Boston Federal prosecutors file a lawsuit against at least 50 people who have been a part of the college admissions assistance scam. The CEO, Singer, pleads guilty to four counts of racketeering, and conspiracy.
March 19: The University of Southern California declares that any student in connection with the college admissions assistance scam would be bereft of admission or transcripts until the university concludes its investigations.
March 25: Out of the 50 charged, 12 plead not guilty- and the list includes coaches of prominent colleges. Also, the Department of Education notifies the Presidents of the 8 prestigious schools that have been involved in the college admissions assistance scam of its investigation into their dealings. Yale decided to cancel an admission offer that they sent to a student allegedly involved in the scam.
March 28: The third person to plead guilty is Rudy Meredith, a former soccer coach at Yale who confessed to taking in bribes worth $900,000 to recruit students in the school regardless of their athletic abilities. As far as court records go, he could be facing 20 years. The lawmakers in California then decided to make it comprehensively harder for donors, wards of alumni, and student-athletes to secure admission in USC, and UCLA. Michael Center, the erstwhile Tennis coach at the University of Texas refused to put in a plea on two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and honest services mail fraud.
March 29: There was an appearance of around 15 people in Federal Courts which included Bill McGlashan, the executive for TPG, and Michelle Janavs. In a bizarre twist, the court proceedings had most parents completely silent while most lawyers too refused to comment on the matter. Gamal Abdelaziz’s lawyer Brian Kelly negated the entire case by calling it a ‘one-witness case’. Bloomberg mentioned that the prosecutors talked about how the government was looking to charge and arrest other suspects.
April 3: Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman appear before the courts for the first time. On the other hand, Peter Sartorio, an entrepreneur of packaged-food from California, turns up to plead guilty. He was accused of paying $15,000 to someone in order to correct the answers of his daughter’s paper in ACT.
April 4: Harvard University brings out an investigation on their former fencing coach according to reports from the WSJ. And this investigation into the college admissions assistance scam came hours after an expose in the Boston Global.
April 8: 12 parents along with Huffman pleaded guilty to the College Admissions Assistance Scam. Federal prosecutors mentioned that the former coach of the Texas University too pled guilty. Huffman, after her arrest, mentioned that her daughter had no idea about anything that was going on, and it was completely her who betrayed her daughter’s trust.
April 9: Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli (her fashion designer husband) were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud charge. The count soon increased to them being indicted for money laundering and fraud. The celebrity couple have been accused of bribing crew recruits at the University of Southern California with $500,000 so that their daughters got admission as student-athletes- despited them never having participated in any sport. After Huffman pleaded guilty, Netflix decided to postpone the release of her comedy ‘Otherhood’.
April 12: Mark Riddell pleaded guilty to receiving $10,000 to take college exams on behalf of students. Although his sentencing was pushed to November, he was indefinitely removed from his job as the Director College Entrance Exam Preparation at IMG Academy, a Florida-based boarding school.
April 15: Both Giannulli and his wife Loughlin pleaded not guilty to charges of laundering and mail fraud. But the couple didn’t come up with a public statement about the entire saga.
April 18: Isabella Giannulli, the eldest daughter of Lori Loughlin received a letter of intent from the office of the federal prosecutors- this meant that she could be in for a criminal investigation.
April 22: Several families along with the celebrity couple decided to file a motion to check the prosecutor’s evidence before a substantive motion was filed by them.
April 23: Laura Janke, a former assistant coach of the women’s soccer team at the University of South California entered a guilty plea on one charge of racketeering conspiracy. Her plea also had an agreement clause where she would help the federal agents in any way they wished. Toby McFarlane also decided to plead guilty for paying $450,000 so that his children get admitted to the University of South California under the College Admissions Assistance Scam, as athletes. He pleaded guilty to counts of honest services mail fraud and mail fraud.
April 24: The Texas University’s former Tennis Coach Michael Center pleaded guilty for his part in the College Admissions Assistance Scam for he took a bribe of $100,000.
April 26: A couple of Chinese families were alleged of paying millions to secure seats in Ivy colleges like Stanford and Yale.
May 1: Pieces of evidence pointed towards more and more families being involved in the college admissions assistance scam- although the number wasn’t determined as of May 1.
May 7: Another parent pleaded guilty- this time it was Stephen Semprevivo who confessed to paying $400,000 so that his son could get admitted into Georgetown University on student-athlete recruitment.
May 13: Felicity Huffman also pleaded guilty of paying $15,000 for improving her daughter’s scores on her SATs. She confessed and entered a guilty plea in Federal Court.
May 14: Laura Jane makes a change in her plea guilty- switching it from a single charge of conspiracy to racketeer, and creating false profiles of celebrity children to enroll them under the student-athlete criterion. This resulted in her being retained to cooperate with the prosecutors to bring out other suspects.
May 15: Two students from Georgetown University were expelled after their families got caught up in the college admissions assistance scam. The son of Stephen Semprevivo, Adam, filed a civil lawsuit to revoke the decision for he claimed that he shouldn’t be punished for his father’s role in the college admissions assistance scam- who had already confessed to paying $400,000 in bribes.
June 12: John Vandemoer became the first defendant to be sentenced amongst the 50 people who were sentenced. Although the sailing coach escaped prison time, the prosecutors had asked for 13 months.
September 13: Huffman was sentenced, becoming the first parent involved in the college admissions assistance scandal to be sentenced. Her sentencing amounted to 14 days in a penitentiary, a fine of $30,000, a single year of supervised probation, and community service worth 250 hours.
September 18: Xiaoning Sui became the first Chinese national to be charged with paying $400,000 to enroll her ward as a soccer player at UCLA.
September 24: Devin Sloane, a business executive from Los Angeles was sentenced to a 4-month prison term, along with 500 hours of community service which would be divided into two years, as well as a fine of $95,000 and supervised probation of up to two years.
October 15: Felicity Huffman reported to a penitentiary in Northern California to start her 14-day prison sentence.
October 21: Several other high profile defendants pleaded guilty, according to the reports published by the Wall Street Journal. An ally of Rick Singer, Martin Fox, also pleaded guilty as well as cooperation with the federal prosecutors.
February 7: Douglas Hodge was sentenced to nine months in a penitentiary as a federal judge highlighted his role in the college admissions assistance scam as an enduring and repeated conduct.
February 25: Michelle Janavs- the heiress of Hot Pockets sentenced for a prison term of five months, as well as $250,000 in fines. Janavs had already confessed her guilt last year for committing fraud, and money laundering.
May 21: Giannulli and Loughlin pleaded guilty, with Lori Loughlin receiving a prison term of two months, and a fine of $150,000, and her husband accruing a prison sentence of five months and a $250,000 fine.
August 21: The deal of the celebrity couple was agreed upon by the Federal judge.
The College Admissions Assistance Scam wrecked the education sector of the country, and while several of the suspects have already been sentenced, there are a lot of families who haven’t been prosecuted yet. The college admissions scandal summary above shows how drawn-out the struggle was for justice.