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Hollywood stars among 50 indicted over college entrance scam

March 13, 2019

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This handout picture released on Tuesday by the French maritime agency shows flames on an Italian merchant ship off the coast of Brittany. All 27 people aboard the ship were saved by a British naval vessel after its containers and cars caught fire. The stricken ship’s crew were unable to fight the flames and were planning to abandon it.—AFP
This handout picture released on Tuesday by the French maritime agency shows flames on an Italian merchant ship off the coast of Brittany. All 27 people aboard the ship were saved by a British naval vessel after its containers and cars caught fire. The stricken ship’s crew were unable to fight the flames and were planning to abandon it.—AFP

NEW YORK: Felicity Huffman, the star of Desperate Housewives, and fellow Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin were among 50 people indicted on Tuesday in a multi-million dollar scam to help children of the American elite cheat their way into top universities.

The accused, who also include chief executives, financiers, a winemaker and fashion designer, allegedly cheated in admissions tests or arranged for bribes to get their children into prestigious schools including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said.

They paid a bogus charity run by Californian William Rick Singer millions both to arrange for people to fix SAT and ACT entrance exams for their children, and also to bribe university administrators and sports coaches to recruit their children, even when the children were not qualified to play university-level sports.

Huffman, 56, and Loughlin, the 54-year-old star of Full House, were among 33 parents accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in joining the scheme.

Loughlin’s fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli was also on the list.

Four people accused of running the scam, and 13 officials associated with university sports and the testing system were also charged.

The payments ranged from $200,000 to $6.5 million, according to Andrew Lelling, the US attorney in Boston, Massachusetts, where the case was filed.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2019