Everything to Know About the Alleged College Cheating Scam with Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin
On Tuesday, federal court records unsealed in Boston named 50 people, including Felicity Huffman and Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, who were allegedly part of an admissions cheating scam involving elite colleges and universities. The scandal involves admissions to schools like Yale, Georgetown and Stanford, among others, PEOPLE confirmed on Tuesday.
Several individuals, including Huffman, were taken into custody on Tuesday.
Authorities are still investigating the scope of the scandal. Here are things to know about the shocking case as it stands now.
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, there was a widespread effort by wealthy families to get their children into top colleges by falsifying SAT scores, lying about their athletic skills, and more.
“Dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits were arrested by federal agents in multiple states and charged in documents unsealed on March 12, 2019, in federal court in Boston,” the release says.
Athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others, are implicated, as well as parents and exam administrators, the release says.
Some individuals named in the court documents allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into these elite colleges, according to federal prosecutors.
The Case Against Felicity Huffman
Huffman has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. According to multiple outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter, she has been arrested and is presently in custody. She is expected to be released on a signature bond and appear for a future court date.
Prosecutors allege that Huffman paid $15,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer and his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (“KWF”). Prosecutors allege that KWF facilitated cheating on Huffman’s daughter’s SAT test by having a proctor correct her answers.
Huffman, 56, also discussed the scheme in a recorded phone call with a cooperating witness, the indictment alleges.
According to the FBI affidavit, the cooperating witness told Huffman that he “controlled” a testing center, and could arrange for a third party to purport to proctor the SAT testing of Huffman’s daughter, Sofia Grace, 18. The proctor would then change incorrect answers, ensuring Grace got a higher score.
Prosecutors say they have recordings of Huffman talking about the scheme for her younger daughter Georgia Grace, but she ultimately ended up not doing it.
The Case Against Lori Loughlin
According to federal prosecutors, former Full House star Lori Loughlin allegedly wanted her daughters to get into the University of Southern California so badly that she and her fashion designer husband paid half a million dollars in bribes to falsely designate their daughters as recruits on the crew team.
The 204-page criminal complaint alleges that Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC.”
The complaint alleges that Loughlin and her husband had the daughters pose as coxswains for a local crew team as well as on rowing machines, adding that federal agents obtained emails from Loughlin and her husband allegedly implicating them in the scam.
The Colleges Respond
Admissions to the schools mentioned in the complaint are extremely competitive: For first-time, full-time undergraduates, only 5 percent of applicants get into Stanford, 7 percent get into Yale, 17 percent get into Georgetown, 18 percent get into the University of Southern California and 29 percent get into Wake Forest, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Many of the schools targeted in the scheme have since responded to the allegations.
“As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its former women’s soccer coach,” Yale University said in a statement to PEOPLE. “The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.”
In a response, USC maintained that it has not been “accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation.” USC is now conducting an internal investigation and reviewing its admissions process.
Stanford University announced that it has terminated the school’s head sailing coach, who was implicated in the case.
Wake Forest University tells PEOPLE that it has placed their volleyball coach on administrative leave following his alleged role in the plot.
Reps for Huffman and Loughlin did not immediately return calls by PEOPLE for comment.