BOSTON (Reuters) – Felicity Huffman arrived at the federal court in Boston on Wednesday, where she and fellow actress Lori Loughlin will appear to face charges tied to what prosecutors call the largest college admissions scam uncovered in U.S. history.
Camera crews crowded the courthouse in anticipation of the arrival of the stars and 13 other wealthy parents accused of engaging in schemes that involved cheating on college exams and paying $25 million in bribes to buy their children spots at well-known universities.
Prosecutors say the scheme was overseen by California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, who has admitted to facilitating the cheating scam and bribing coaches at schools like Yale University and University of Southern California to present the parents’ children as fake athletic recruits.
“Desperate Housewives” star Huffman and “Full House” actor Loughlin, along with a former chief executive and a major law firm’s onetime chairman, are part of the group scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge.
Prosecutors have begun holding plea talks with some parents. Two of the parents appearing in court on Wednesday, California businessman Devin Sloane and marketing executive Jane Buckingham, in court filings disclosed they were in talks with prosecutors.
Prosecutors allege that Loughlin and her husband, Los Angeles fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters named as recruits to USC’s crew team, even though they did not row competitively.
Prosecutors said Huffman, who is married to the actor William H. Macy, made a $15,000 contribution to Singer’s foundation in exchange for having an associate of Singer’s in 2017 secretly correct her daughter’s answers on an SAT college entrance exam at a test center Singer “controlled.”
Huffman later made arrangements to engage in the scheme again on her younger daughter’s behalf before deciding not to, prosecutors said.
Other accused parents expected to appear in court include Manuel Henriquez, the former chief executive of specialty finance company Hercules Capital Inc, and Gordon Caplan, the former co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Henriquez resigned his position and Caplan was placed on leave after they were charged.
The U.S. Education Department has opened an investigation into eight universities linked to the scandal.
Prosecutors have not yet charged any applicants for illegal activity and said that in some cases the parents charged took steps to try to prevent their children from realizing they were benefiting from fraud.
Reporting by Nate Raymond; editing by Scott Malone, Susan Thomas and Bill Berkrot
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