An alleged college admissions scheme rocked the nation when details of it were released Tuesday. It was shocking not only because of the number of Hollywood celebrities and prominent business people involved, but also because of the extent everyone involved reportedly went to to get away with it over the course of eight years.
According to CBS News, 33 parents — including “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, “Full House” actresses Lori Loughlin, and Loughlin’s fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli of the Mossimo brand — paid admissions consultant William Singer $25 million to get their kids admitted to prestigious universities of their choice — such as Yale, USC, and Stanford — that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise been accepted to.
Singer is accused of working with the wealthy parents in two ways. One, helping their kids cheat on the SAT and ACT exams so they could get high scores. Two, getting their kids recruited to the schools as star athletes. The way they reportedly pulled off the latter is the most ridiculous.
"Singer worked with the parents to fabricate impressive athletic profiles for their kids," explained Boston U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling on Tuesday.
The faked profiles needed convincing photos attached to them. That required coordination between the parents and graphic designers who were reportedly involved in the conspiracy.
“In some instances, parents assisted CW-1 [cooperating witness 1] in creating the fabricated profiles, including supplying staged photos of their children engage in athletic activity,” one the racketeering indictment documents reads.
However, “in other instances, CW-1 and his associates simply found photos of athletes on the Internet and used used those photos or used software such as PhotoShop to insert the applicants’ faces onto the bodies of legitimate athletes.”
As laughable as that seems, the photo editing jobs were apparently convincing enough to pass muster. The graphic designer involved bragged about his skill and expertise in the court document.
“CW-1 explained to McGLASHAN that he would create a falsified athletic profile for McGLASHAN’s son, something he told McGLASHAN he had ‘already done...a million times,’ which would involve him using ‘Photoshop and stuff’ to deceive university admissions officers,” the document reads.
William McGlashan is a managing partner of TGP, one of the largest equity firms in the world, according to Bloomberg. McGlashan’s role in the company is “promoting social good.”
Another account describes what appears to be one of the parents’ kids dressing up as a water polo player for a staged photo shoot so the kid could be layered on top of a believable background. The document suggests that the kid purchased water polo gear and pretended to play the sport for the picture but had to do it more than once because he was “a little high out of the water” and “no one gets that high.”
The kid, knowing little about water polo, was apparently standing on the bottom of the pool for the shot, putting him too high out of the water. Water polo players play in the deep end, where they constantly have to be swimming.
According to NBC News, Loughlin — who played “Aunt Betty” in “Full House” — and her husband Giannulli reportedly took photos of their daughters using a rowing machine as part of a USC application that falsely claimed that their daughters had rowing experience.
College coaches and administrators are also being accused of being bribed to accept the fake student profiles and exam results. They were not obligated to actually put the kids in those sports or classes after accepting them.
“The real victims in this case are the hardworking students” who didn’t get a place in those colleges because of the “far less qualified students and their families who simply bought their way in,” Lelling explained, according to the New York Times.
About 50 people have been indicted so far.