When U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters Tuesday about America's largest college admissions scandal ever uncovered, he said only that "our first lead in this came during interviews with a target of an entirely separate investigation, who gave us a tip that this activity might be going on." It turns out that the lead came in an unrelated securities fraud case in Boston, from a financial executive who, hoping for leniency, said the Yale women's soccer coach had solicited a bribe to get the man's daughter into the Ivy League university, The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe report.
That father, who was not charged in the college admissions case, wore a wire when he met with Yale soccer coach Rudy Meredith in a Boston hotel room in April 2018, when Meredith allegedly agreed to list the daughter as a Yale soccer recruit for $450,000. Meredith, 51, started cooperating with prosecutors and resigned in November, without disclosing the wide-ranging operation. And Meredith reportedly led prosecutors to alleged ringmaster William Singer, who, prosecutors allege, was paid a total of $25 million from 2011 to 2018 to help cheat the children of wealthy parents into elite universities.
Singer began cooperating with the feds after they informed him he was under surveillance in September 2018, prosecutors say. Meredith's first federal court appearance is set for March 28 in Boston. The investigation, called Operation Varsity Blues, has led to charges for 33 wealthy parents, but it's still underway and more parents and coaches may still be ensnared. Peter Weber
The Department of Justice revealed the findings of its massive "Operation Varsity Blues" on Tuesday, charging 33 parents with scamming their children into elite colleges and alleging a slew of NCAA coaches accepted their bribes. The charges came with stunning details, including how parents paid to have their children Photoshopped onto the bodies of athletes in an effort to make Division 1 teams for sports they'd never played.
Loughlin's indictment unearthed vlogs from her daughter in which she declared she didn't "really care about school," which was probably a blow to her parents seeing as they allegedly paid $500,000 to get her there. Loughlin was reportedly in Canada at the time of her arrest, but the FBI said she would surrender when she returned to Los Angeles on Wednesday, per AP. Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli of T-shirt fame, surrendered Tuesday but did not enter a plea in court, The Wall Street Journal says. Kathryn Krawczyk
The Justice Department on Tuesday revealed it had uncovered a massive college entrance exam cheating scam, charging 33 parents for using "bribery and other forms of fraud to facilitate their children's admission" into colleges. Those charged include actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with several NCAA Division I coaches who allegedly accepted bribes. Here are 5 of the wildest details in the indictments.
1. The kids weren't always in on it. The criminal complaint alleges that "in many instances," students didn't know any cheating was going on at all. No students or schools were charged Tuesday.
2. It's easy to be a Maxxinista. When a parent suggested a $160,000 donation could secure a spot on Stanford University's sailing team, a cooperating witness running the scheme scoffed, saying: "That's not all it takes. This is not TJ Maxx or Marshall's."
3.Athletics were huge. The Yale University women's soccer coach allegedly knew a recruit didn't even play soccer, but was paid $1.2 million and let her on the team anyway.
4. So was Photoshopping. Parents allegedly paid to have photos of their children edited onto the bodies of pole vaulters or water polo players to get them recruited as athletes, often dissing their kids' athletic abilities along the way. Students allegedly quit the teams once they got on campus or faked injuries.
5. Huffman loves Scooby Doo.
“Ruh Ro! Looks like [my daughter’s high school] wants to provide own proctor.” — Felicity Huffman, allegedly. pic.twitter.com/QL4tNmvW1l
Unrelated bonus: It's not in the charges, but Loughlin's daughter, in an video announcing she was going to the University of Southern California, said "I don't really care about school" and "I don't know how much of school I'm gonna attend."
And another one: This 2016 tweet from Huffman is just begging for witty replies. Kathryn Krawczyk
What are your best “hacks” for the back-to-school season?