The allegations in the federal indictment outline one heck of a cheating scandal so that the wealthiest parents could get their children into the top-ranked schools. The schools are variously described as “elite” and “best.” The Barometer, having spent four decades in the academic trenches, wishes she could have had a chat with both parents and children: Graduating from Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UT Austin, Stanford, Wake Forest, Georgetown, and USC is no guarantee of a happy or successful life. Think OJ Simpson (USC), Jeffrey Skilling (Harvard), Janis Joplin (UT Austin), and so on. (The schools were not implicated in the indictments — they were the victims). Also, there are mighty successful graduates of community college, trade schools, or no college who have done just fine. Try and get a trim carpenter, or an AC technician these days and you learn that they are as rare as hen’s teeth and as expensive as your doctor or lawyer.
These discussions aside, the list of activities that comprise the allegations include:
1. Having others take the ACT and SAT for the famous and/or wealthy kids. Bribing test administrators took care of that problem.
2. Passing off the famous and/or wealthy kids as athletes to get admission when the kids had no athletic talent or experience. Upon arrival on campus, the famous and/or wealthy kids would feign a career-ending injury.
3. The rich and/or famous parents would make donations to a fake charitable organization, Key Worldwide Foundation, that would then make payments to university employees or testing officials who would then grease the skids for the kids. After all, what good is paying a bribe if you cannot deduct it as a charitable donation?
4. The ring leader of the whole scheme, William Singer, has entered a guilty plea. A Yale soccer coach will also enter a guilty plea, i.e., the rich and famous will be thrown under the bus. The Yale soccer coach is expected to plead guilty to accepting a $400,000 bribe in order to put one of the kids on her soccer roster. The parents of the fake soccer student-athlete paid $1.2 million to the Foundation for that plot. Seems like the margins were fairly high for Singer, eh?
5. 33 of the 50 indicted are parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
6. Ms. Huffman paid $15,000 to have her oldest daughter’s SAT score altered a mere 400 points, up to 1420. Did anyone not question this wide swing? Ms. Huffman’s husband, actor William Macy was not indicted. Should be some interesting discussions over this one at home tonight.
7. Ms. Loughlin paid $500,000 to get her daughters admitted as a crew team recruits at USC. Ms. Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli (you might recognize his name from your Target designs), was also indicted.
8. The wiretapped phone calls offer a treasure trove of evidence against the charged individuals.Jane Buckingham, a boutique owner, and another charged parent, agreed to pay $50,000 to have someone else take her son’s SAT and reflected in a phone call that she knew it was all a tall order, “I know this is craziness, I know it is. And then I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.” That would establish all the intent the Feds need.
9. The kids knew. Now they will be living with the Internet stories and an eternal asterisk by their degrees.