Degrees In Deception: Indictments Made In College Admissions Scandal

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Degrees In Deception: Indictments Made In College Admissions Scandal

Brian Snyder

Brian Snyder

Brian Snyder

Grace Wallis, Staff Writer

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With the process of college admittance already being one of high competitivity and anxiety, the highly publicized college admissions scandal has cast the legitimacy of the process into question. Students across the world are left wondering if their bank accounts matter more than their ACT scores.

On March 12, 2019, federal prosecutors disclosed that a minimum of 50 people were allegedly involved in an elaborate bribery conspiracy to influence college admissions decisions at prominent American universities such as USC, Yale and Stanford. The scheme was uncovered through a federal investigation nicknamed “Varsity Blues.” Bribes paid by those involved ranged from a few thousand dollars up to a staggering $6 million.

The organizer of the scheme was admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer. Parents paid Singer to bribe coaches at prestigious schools to work to recruit their children into the school’s sports programs, regardless of actual athleticism. Singer also bribed test-preparation moderators of the ACT and SAT exams to correct student’s answers. Parents paid Singer large sums of money through a charity account he registered in 2013.

On Tuesday, April 9, 15 parents, including Full House actress Lori Loughlin, were indicted on charges of both fraud conspiracy and money laundering. The additional charge for money laundering is likely an attempt to get the 15 to file guilty pleas. A day prior, 13 parents and one coach agreed to guilty pleas. As the 15 indicted on Tuesday face two charges as opposed to just one, they will likely face heavier sentences than the other 13.

While prosecutors are putting on hard hitting pressure for plea deals, defense attorneys voice their frustration with the trials. A defense attorney for one couple accused of paying $25,000 to get their daughter’s SAT scores corrected compared the case to a “mass trial,” stating that prosecutors were drawing little distinction between each individual case, while the attorney of a father who paid $300,000 in bribes stated the account of his client’s actions was “deeply flawed.”

The consequences of the dishonesty and fraud in this case range from parents facing jail time, to students having their admission rescinded, to millions of dollars lost. However, the real victims in this case are the students who may have missed out on an admittance into their dream school because somebody else paid their way in.

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