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50 celebs, coaches, CEOs, and others charged in college admissions scandal

The FBI and federal prosecutors in Boston have charged 50 people, including several university athletic coaches and administrators of college entrance exams, in a nationwide college admissions cheating and recruitment scheme, according to court documents first released on Tuesday. 13 people have been indicted.


According to the indictment, the scheme worked to help potential students cheat on college entrance exams or pose as recruited athletes to get admitted to high-profile universities with bribes of up to $6 million. The scheme allegedly facilitated admittance for some students as athletes regardless of their athletic abilities.

Parents allegedly paid a California man a predetermined amount which he would then steer to either an SAT or ACT administrator, or a college athletic coach. Coaches would help non-recruits get into school by saying they were recruits. Most of the students allegedly admitted under these false pretenses that they did not know their admission was contingent on a bribe.

Actors Felicity Huffman, of Desperate Housewives fame, and Full House's Lori Loughlin were both charged in the scheme, according to court documents, which show that the FBI recorded phone calls with both actresses and a cooperating witness where they discussed the scheme. The two have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Among coaches indicted are current Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer, former Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith, former Georgetown tennis coach Gordie Ernst, several USC Olympic sports coaches, current UCLA men's soccer coach Jorge Salcedo and current Texas men's tennis coach Michael Center. Ernst, who is accused of taking multiple six-figure cash bribes to admit fake recruits, resigned without explanation from Georgetown last summer. He is now coaching at Rhode Island.

Wake Forest volleyball coach William "Bill" Ferguson was indicted in the scheme on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Wake Forest announced Tuesday that the University has placed Ferguson on "administrative leave" while they investigate the allegations against him.

Mark Riddell, the Director of College Entrance Exam Preparation at IMG Academy, a private college preparatory school and sports academy in Bradenton, Fla., has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud alongside charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

In her affidavit, Special Agent Laura Smith said the FBI has "probable cause to believe that the defendants conspired with others known and unknown: (1) to bribe college entrance exam administrators to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams; (2) to bribe varsity coaches and administrators at elite universities to designate certain applicants as recruited athletes or as other favored candidates, thereby facilitating the applicants' admission to those universities; and (3) to use the facade of a charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribe payments."

The scheme, which was allegedly running from 2011 to present day, per court documents, involved Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, University of Texas, Wake Forest, and Yale.

One student was allegedly posed as a USC lacrosse recruit despite the lack of a lacrosse team in the Trojans' athletic programs. Another prospective student was "made a long snapper," despite weighing just 145 pounds. Other students athletic histories were similarly falsely described for the purposes of admission.

Per court documents, there is no indication that the schools were directly involved in wrong-doing.