College admission cheating scam: UCLA coach, USC employees among dozens accused in alleged scheme

A UCLA soccer coach and multiple USC employees are among the nearly 50 people accused in an alleged nationwide college admissions bribery scheme.

Authorities are calling it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department.

MORE: Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among actresses, CEOs charged in alleged college admissions scam
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Danielle Leigh has the latest on the alleged college admissions cheating scam.


At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents were among those charged in the investigation, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. Dozens have been arrested - including 13 people who were arrested in Los Angeles on Tuesday. This includes actress Felicity Huffman.

The University of California, Los Angeles says its soccer coach Jorge Salcedo has been placed on leave pending a review and will have no involvement with the team.

UCLA says in a statement Tuesday it's a "potential victim of a fraudulent scheme" but that it's not aware of any student-athletes who are under suspicion.

READ: Charging document filed in 'Operation Varsity Blues'

Court documents say Salcedo, who was the head coach for the men's team, helped get two applicants who did not play competitive soccer into UCLA in exchange for $100,000 in 2016 and 2018.

The University of Southern California said it has identified one long-term athletics department employee, a current coach and three former staff members as being involved in the scheme. The school issued the following statement:

The school later announced senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic have been "terminated and the university will take additional employment actions as appropriate."

Another Hollywood actress charged in the case is Lori Loughlin. She was not at her residence Tuesday morning and therefore was not taken into custody in Los Angeles, authorities said.

Loughlin, who was charged along with her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, appeared in the ABC sitcom "Full House," while Huffman starred in ABC's "Desperate Housewives." Both were charged with fraud and conspiracy.

Loughlin and her husband allegedly gave $500,000 to have their two daughters labeled as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither participated in the sport. Their 19-year-old daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, who has a popular YouTube channel, attends USC.

Court documents said Huffman paid $15,000 that she disguised as a charitable donation so that her daughter could take part in the college entrance-exam cheating scam.

Court papers said a cooperating witness met with Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, at their Los Angeles home and explained to them that he "controlled" a testing center and could have somebody secretly change her daughter's answers. The person told investigators the couple agreed to the plan.

Macy was not charged; authorities did not say why.

Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes, to alter test scores and to have others take online classes to boost their children's chances of getting into schools.

Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children's admission, officials said.

The other coaches accused in this scheme work at Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest and Yale.

No students were charged. Authorities said in many cases the teenagers were not aware of the fraud.

Authorities said coaches in such sports as soccer, sailing, tennis, water polo and volleyball accepted bribes to put students on lists of recruited athletes, regardless of their ability or experience. That, in turn, boosted the students' chances of admission.

Among the parents charged were Gordon Caplan of Greenwich, Connecticut, a co-chairman of an international law firm based in New York; Jane Buckingham, CEO of a boutique marketing company in Los Angeles; Gregory Abbott of New York, founder and chairman of a packaging company; and Manuel Henriquez, CEO of a finance company based in Palo Alto, California.

The bribes allegedly came through an admissions consulting company in Newport Beach, California. Authorities said parents paid William Singer, the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, approximately $25 million to get their children into college.

Prosecutors said Singer was scheduled to plead guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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