Parents charged in admissions scheme roll through US courts
CGTN

Colleges and companies moved swiftly to distance themselves from employees swept up in a nationwide college admissions scheme, many of them coaches accused of taking bribes and others prominent parents accused of angling to get their children into top schools by portraying them as recruited athletes.

That celebrities were among the accused parents - actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman headline the list - created much buzz, but other parents charged included people prominent in law, finance, fashion, manufacturing and other fields - people who could afford the steep price.

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents were among those charged. Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, as much as 6.5 million U.S. dollars, to guarantee their children's admission, officials said.

At a brief court appearance Wednesday, a judge allowed Loughlin to be released on one million U.S. dollars bond and travel to the area around Vancouver, Canada, to work but otherwise imposed strict travel restrictions. Magistrate Judge Steven Kim said Loughlin must surrender her passport in December, inform the court of her travel plans and provide evidence of where she's been if asked.

Actress, Felicity Huffman attends a media event. /VCG Photo

Actress, Felicity Huffman attends a media event. /VCG Photo

Loughlin's lawyer Perry Viscounty declined to comment outside the courtroom, where a day earlier her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was freed on similar terms.

Prosecutors allege the couple paid 500,000 U.S. dollars to have their daughters labeled as crew-team recruits at the University of Southern California, even though neither is a rower.

Among the other parents charged was Gordon Caplan, of Greenwich, Connecticut, co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr and Gallagher, based in New York. Caplan "will have no further firm management responsibilities," the firm said in a statement Wednesday.

Telephone messages seeking comment have been left with Caplan, who is accused of paying 75,000 U.S. dollars to get a test supervisor to correct the answers on his daughter's ACT exam after she took it.

Felicity Huffman is seen inside the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, March 12, 2019. /VCG Photo

Felicity Huffman is seen inside the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, March 12, 2019. /VCG Photo

Hercules Capital, a Palo Alto, California, hedge fund, announced Wednesday it was replacing its leader, Manuel Henriquez, who has been arrested in New York City and released on 500,000 U.S. dollars bail. Henriquez will still hold a seat on the board and serve as an adviser, Hercules said.

Henriquez and his wife, Elizabeth, of Atherton, California, were charged with participating in the scheme on four occasions for their two daughters. They were also charged with conspiring to bribe Gordon Ernst, former head tennis coach at Georgetown University, to designate their older daughter as a tennis recruit to facilitate her admission and with making a 400,000 U.S. dollars contribution to a charity to help her get accepted to the school.

Georgetown said he hadn't coached there since December 2017 after an investigation found he violated university admissions rules. The University of Rhode Island says Ernst, who was hired as head women's tennis coach in August, was placed on administrative leave.

At a court hearing Tuesday in Maryland, a federal magistrate freed Ernst on 200,000 U.S. dollars bond.

His lawyer, Michael CitaraManis, said his client isn't a flight risk. Ernst had planned to attend a job interview in Toronto soon, he said, "although I don't know the impact from these proceedings."

Lori Loughlin(R) and daughter Olivia attend an event in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017. /VCG Photo

Lori Loughlin(R) and daughter Olivia attend an event in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017. /VCG Photo

Also among the charged parents was Homayoun Zadeh, an associate professor of dentistry at the University of Southern California. His status at USC was unclear; his faculty profile has been removed from a website, and phone messages seeking comment were not returned.

Mark Riddell - an administrator for Bradenton, Florida's IMG Academy, which was founded by renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri and bills itself as the world's largest sports academy - was suspended late Tuesday after he was accused of taking college admissions tests. Riddell didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Many of the coaches were quickly fired or suspended by the colleges. Prosecutors said the colleges themselves are not targets of the continuing investigation.

Stanford fired sailing coach John Vandemoer after he was charged with accepting 270,000 U.S. dollars in contributions to the program for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission. Neither student came to Stanford, the school said.

USC fired senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic. Court documents say Vavic was paid 250,000 U.S. dollars and designated two students as recruits for his team to facilitate their admission. 

Courtroom sketches show actress Felicity Huffman, William Macy and Lori Loughlinâ's husband, designer Massimo Giannulli appearing in court after facing charges as part of a massive college entrance exam scheme. /VCG Photo

Courtroom sketches show actress Felicity Huffman, William Macy and Lori Loughlinâ's husband, designer Massimo Giannulli appearing in court after facing charges as part of a massive college entrance exam scheme. /VCG Photo

The University of Texas fired men's tennis coach Michael Center on Wednesday, a day after federal officials unveiled documents accusing Center of taking up to nearly 100,000 U.S. dollars to get a student into school by listing him as a tennis recruit. Once enrolled the student never played tennis. Center's attorney has said the coach denies the allegations.

At Wake Forest, President Nathan Hatch said volleyball coach Bill Ferguson, who was accused of taking a bribe, has been suspended. The university's outside counsel is conducting an internal review, Hatch said.

Federal prosecutors said parents paid admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer millions of dollars to bribe their children's way into college. Some of the payouts went to coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes, and Singer also hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students and paid off insiders at testing centers to correct students' answers, authorities said.

Singer, founder of the Edge College & Career Network of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty Tuesday.

Read More:

Biggest U.S. college fraud bust nets actors Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin

Hollywood actors, CEOs accused of paying bribes, faking photos to scam U.S. college admissions

(Top Photo: Courtroom sketches show actress Felicity Huffman and other people appearing in court after facing charges as part of a massive college entrance exam scheme. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): AP