Celebrity College Scam Involved Photoshopping Teens To Make Them Look Athletic
Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are the big names involved in this groundbreaking plot.
UPDATE: 3/12 12:44 PM ET
Actress Lori Loughlin was taken into custody by the FBI Wednesday (March 13) in Los Angeles after she was charged in a million-dollar college admissions scam. Good Morning America reports Loughlin is expected to appear in federal court in Los Angeles for fraud charges.
Details have been released in the college cheating scheme that involves a slew of very privileged actress, business owners and college coaches. Some of the craziest and questionable details of the case include photoshopping the bodies of students to make them look more athletic and "donating" Facebook shares to pay the ringleaders.
A total of 50 individuals have been named, amongst them actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in a college entrance exam plot. It was reported Tuesday (March 12) by ABC 7 Chicago that the suspects involved in the crime allegedly paid up to $6 million to a college counseling company called the Key, a no-profit organization founded by William Singer, also known as Rick Singer.
Singer and his employees would facilitate the scam with the help of athletic coaches at the school as well as college entrance exam administrators, who have also been arrested in the process. Singer ran his operations in California, working with students to help them get into their dream school.
In Loughlin's case, she along with 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," as was reported in the charging documents obtained by ABC 7 Chicago.
Documents also proved how Photoshop was used to enhance the features of teens to make them look more athletic. One parent named Sloane emailed photos of their son pretending to play water polo. Vulture notes the parent “e-mailed CW-1 (Cooperating Witness 1) a photograph of his son purporting to play water polo, with his right arm and upper torso exposed above the water line. In the e-mail, Sloane asked, ‘Does this work??’ CW-1 responded: ‘Yes but a little high out of the water-no one gets that high.’”
While Loughlin and company paid off athletic coaches Huffman and her husband William H. Macy, of Showtime's Shameless, "made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000...to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter. Huffman later made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so."
Authorities claim that there is evidence of both parties partaking in this scam, with emails from Loughlin and a witness as well as phone calls from Huffman. Presently, Huffman has been arrested and she among the others face charges including conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
According to the New York Times, here are those involved in the scandal:
The Power Players
William Singer, also known as Rick Singer, owner of the Edge College & Career Network, and chief executive of the Key Worldwide Foundation
Steven Masera, an accountant and financial officer for the two entities
Mikaela Sanford, an employee who held several roles and is accused of taking classes for high school students
Gamal Abdelaziz, a senior executive of a resort and casino operator
Gregory and Marcia Abbott. Gregory is the founder and chairman of a packaging company for the food and beverage industry, and the former head of a private-label clothing manufacturer
Diane Blake, an executive at a retail merchandising firm, and Todd Blake, entrepreneur and investor
Jane Buckingham, chief executive of a boutique marketing company
Gordon Caplan, a lawyer and a co-chairman of the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher
I-Hsin “Joey” Chen, a provider of warehousing and related services for the shipping industry
Amy and Gregory Colburn. Gregory is a physician.
Robert Flaxman, chief executive of a Los Angeles-based real estate development firm
Mossimo Giannulli, fashion designer, and Lori Loughlin, actress
Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez. Manuel is the founder, chairman and chief executive of a specialty finance company.
Douglas Hodge, former chief executive of Pimco, one of the world’s biggest bond fund managers
Felicity Huffman, actress
Agustin Huneeus, owner of vineyards in Napa, Calif.
Bruce and Davina Isackson. Bruce is the president of a real estate development firm.
Michelle Janavs, a former executive of a food manufacturer
Elisabeth Kimmel, owner of a media company
Marjorie Klapper, co-owner of a jewelry business
Toby MacFarlane, a former senior executive at a title insurance company
William E. McGlashan Jr., a senior executive at TPG, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms
Marci Palatella, chief executive of a liquor distributor
Peter Jan “P.J.” Sartorio, a packaged-food entrepreneur
Stephen Semprevivo, an executive at an outsourcing company
David Sidoo, a businessman in Vancouver, British Columbia
Devin Sloane, founder and chief executive of a drinking water and wastewater systems business
John Wilson, founder and chief executive of a private-equity and real estate development firm
Homayoun Zadeh, an associate professor of dentistry at U.S.C.
Robert Zangrillo, founder and chief executive of a Miami-based venture capital and real estate firm
The Athletic Coaches
Michael Center, head coach of men’s tennis at University of Texas at Austin
Gordon Ernst, former head coach of men’s and women’s tennis at Georgetown
William Ferguson, women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest
Donna Heinel, senior associate athletic director at U.S.C.
Laura Janke, former assistant coach of women’s soccer at U.S.C.
Ali Khosroshahin, former head coach of women’s soccer at U.S.C.
Rudolph Meredith, former head coach of women’s soccer at Yale
Jorge Salcedo, former head coach of men’s soccer at University of California, Los Angeles
John Vandemoer, former sailing coach at Stanford
Jovan Vavic, former water polo coach at U.S.C.
Teachers, test administrators and private instructors
Igor Dvorskiy, test administrator for the College Board and A.C.T., accused of accepting bribes to facilitate the cheating scheme at the West Hollywood Test Center
Niki Williams, assistant teacher at a public high school in Houston and a test administrator for the College Board and A.C.T. who is accused of accepting bribes
Mark Riddell, a test proctor accused of tampering with students’ test papers to improve scores, and of secretly taking exams in place of students
Martin Fox, president of a private tennis academy and camp in Houston, accused of acting as a middleman for bribe payments
Macy, who wasn't charged with any crimes, made his way to court today to support his wife on Tuesday.