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Actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, college coaches — including USC, UCLA — accused in admissions bribery scheme

A prominent senior athletic official and several coaches at USC, as well as another coach at UCLA, are among several charged in a sweeping admissions bribery case unsealed in federal court Tuesday in which the coaches accepted bribes in exchange for admitting students as athletes, regardless of their ability.
Charges have been brought against USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, men’s and women’s water polo coach Jovan Vavic and former women’s soccer head coach Ali Khosroshahin and former assistant coach Laura Janke. UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo has also been indicted.
Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among those who allegedly paid an admissions consultant to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes to boost their chances of getting into schools.
Other schools wrapped up in the controversy include Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest, Georgetown. The bribes, which occurred from 2011 through February 2019, ranged from a few thousand dollars to up to $6 million, according to officials. The charging documents, unsealed in Boston federal court, are more than 200 pages long.
The criminal complaint paints an ugly picture of high-powered individuals committing crimes to get their children into selective schools. Among those charged are Huffman, best known for her role on the television show “Desperate Housewives,” and Loughlin, who appeared on “Full House,” according to court documents.
Authorities said the crimes date back to 2011, and the defendants used “bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children’s admission” to numerous college and universities,” including Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, the University of Texas, USC and UCLA, among others. One of the cooperating witnesses, according to the court documents, is a former head coach of Yale’s women’s soccer team, who pleaded guilty in the case nearly a year ago and has since been helping FBI agents gather evidence.
Some of the 32 defendants are accused of bribing college entrance exam administrators to facilitate cheating on tests — by having a smarter student take the test, or providing students with answers to exams or correcting their answers after they had completed the exams, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court.
Others allegedly bribed university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as “purported athletic recruits — regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport they were purportedly recruited to play — thereby facilitating their admission to universities in place of more qualified applicants,” the complaint charges.
Reportedly in most cases, the students did not know their admission was contingent on a bribe.
Prosecutors allege fake athletic profiles were made to make students look like strong high school athletes when they actually weren’t.
Authorities say the consulting company also bribed administrators of college entrance exams to allow a Florida man to take the tests on behalf of students or replace their answers with his.
In a statement, USC officials said the school is cooperating with the federal investigation and has launched its own review.
“We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university,” the statement says. “USC is conducting an internal investigation and will take employment actions as appropriate. USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.”
The Washington Post and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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