Photo Credit: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
At 6am local time yesterday morning, 7 FBI agents appeared at Felicity Huffman’s Hollywood Hills home with guns drawn to arrest her for her involvement in the nation’s largest college cheating scam in history. Her arrest came as a part of a larger FBI investigation where dozens of actresses, business leaders and other wealthy parents paid to get their kids into school. College athlete coaches were accepting millions to get undeserving kids into a slew of different schools ranging from University of Texas at Austin to Wake Forest and Georgetown by suggesting they were top athletes. A whopping 200 federal agents were used to get to 50 people across 6 states involved in this scandal and further indictments are expected to come in the future.
“The parents are the prime movers of this fraud,” Andrew E. Lelling, the United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said during a press conference held Tuesday, March 12th. “The real victims in this case are the hardworking students” who were displaced in the admissions process by “far less qualified students and their families who simply bought their way in,” Mr. Lelling said.
Right at the center of the investigation is William Singer, the founder of the college preparatory business the Edge College & Career Network, also known as “The Key.” Based out of Newport Beach, California, he helped kids cheat on SATs, ACTs, paid bribes to coaches to put kids on teams they never played on, etc. to get them into schools with fake credentials. From 2011 to 2019 he received $25 million in payments. He plead guilty in federal court in Boston yesterday for counts of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. He said students would believe they were getting their test scores legitimately when in reality he would tell the testing proctor what score he wanted the students to get and they would make it happen. He described his money laundering and bribery as a side door to college admission.
Out of the millions Singer received, Huffman paid $15,000 on behalf of her eldest daughter. She was given twice the amount of time other students were given to take their SATs and secretly had her answers changed. She received a 1420 on her test, about 400 over her PSAT score, quite the improvement.
Trevor Noah asked on The Daily Show “When does the bribing stop? “If you bribe to get good test grades, then surely you have to bribe the administrators. But at some point, people are going to figure out that your kid is stupid.” He went on saying, “The story is so infuriating because rich kids should have to get into college the old-fashioned way, by their parents donating a library,” Noah said. And he pointed out the frustration that Americans have simply on doing their best from day to day and the hypocrist of people like Huffman exhibit as a middle finger to the American way of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps. “This is a huge story right now, and not just because of the possible crimes committed, but also because of everything it says about how privileged people get ahead in a country that’s supposed to be about merit and hard work.”
In a statement to US Weekly about her husband’s possible involvement, Huffman said “He’s very pragmatic and he’s very level-headed and he’s very moral, and I’m on the other side. I’m very… reactionary, amoral and not level-headed.”