Description  -  The 2019 college admissions bribery scandal, nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, exposed a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities.

Location: United States

Charges: Felony conspiracy to commit:: • Mail fraud; • Honest services mail fraud; • Money laundering

Accused: 50 indicted

Venue: United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Organized by: William Rick Singer via: Key Worldwide Foundation; The Edge College & Career Network

Also known as: Operation Varsity Blues

The 2019 college admissions bribery scandal, nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, exposed a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities. It was disclosed on March 12, 2019, by United States federal prosecutors, and at least 50 people are alleged to have been part of it, a number of whom have pled guilty or agreed to plead guilty. 

Thirty-three parents of college applicants are accused of paying more than $25 million between 2011 and 2018 to William Rick Singer, organizer of the scheme, who used part of the money to fraudulently inflate entrance exam test scores and bribe college officials.

Singer controlled the two firms involved in the scheme, Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network (also known as "The Key"). He pled guilty and cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in gathering incriminating evidence against co-conspirators.  He said he unethically facilitated college admission for children in more than 750 families. Singer faces up to 65 years in prison, and a fine of $1.25 million. 

Prosecutors in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, led by United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, unsealed indictments and complaints for felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud against 50 people, including Singer, university staff he bribed, and parents who are alleged to have used bribery and fraud to secure admission for their children to 11 universities.  

Among the accused parents are prominent business-people and well-known actors.  Charges have a maximum term of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $250,000 fine. One month later, 16 of the parents were also indicted by prosecutors for alleged felony conspiracy to commit money laundering. This third charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $500,000 fine.

The FBI is still pursuing the investigation, nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues after the 1999 film.  The case is the largest of its kind to be prosecuted by the US Justice Department.


The words of the song lament that you can’t buy me love but obviously you can buy me into a known University or College till your parents get caught. Getting caught was Operation Varsity blues….

The Headlines told us some rich parents can buy you an education and fortune some of us are not privy to.  Some just got caught.  It’s not a new process, it’s been with us.  You need to find your path using your two feet and your mind.   It is the only hope we have for the future.  

In the United States our administration has failed and a trickle down effect, lieing and cheating accelerated during the past three years that seems to OK,  “get er’ done”  even if you cheat it’s OK.  We went from first in the world in health and education to somewhere around twenty-seventh.  It is expected lower as the 2018 reports are assimilated from PISA-DEC 2019 Hints are a impending disaster.

It’s bad leadership and challenges.  We also suffer from greed and selfishness from the disparity of the rich to the poor and it will be the biggest scam in education the college scene will see and many will pay the price.   I have no problem with that finally surfacing and those who participated being charged.  The Hammurabi code, one gets what one gives.  I do wish to make suggestions which might make more sense.

If these celebrities want to meet the darkside, so be it.  Thats what jail is for.  But a better solution is to make them pay for the education of another child who was left out because of the scam, one for one, or two for one.  It makes sense and is productive.  Jail for these folks means nothing.  Fines for education they deprived a real candidate (by lottery) accomplishes something.  No one is above the law, not even that cheat in the Whitehouse.  That draft dodging cretan only claim to fame was shiniest shoes in the military school and Captain of the Bowling team. ( This is true)  His Dad faked the Bone Spurs so he could be deferred from service.  See Bone Spurs

In what Department of Justice prosecutors are calling the biggest admissions scam in U.S. history, at least 50 people allegedly bribed coaches and paid for forged standardized tests in a conspiracy to get their children admitted to elite American colleges. 

Details: To date, 50 people — from business leaders to celebrities like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and athletic coaches — have been charged in the alleged scheme, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.

Key facts:

  • Orchestrator: Rick Singer, CEO of college admissions prep company, The Key.
  • Number of families involved: 750 
  • How much money: $25 million
  • How many years: The scheme went on from 2011 to early 2019.
  • The schools: Yale University, Wake Forest University, the University of San Diego, Stanford University, Georgetown University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.


March 12: Federal prosecutors in Boston charge at least 50 people connected to the scheme. 

  • Singer pleads guilty to 4 charges including racketeering and conspiracy. 

March 19: USC says students who may be connected to the scheme will be prohibited from registering for classes or acquiring transcripts while the institution continues its investigation. 

March 25: 12 defendants, including prominent college coaches, plead not guilty.

  • The U.S. Department of Education notifies the presidents of 8 schools embroiled in the scandal that they are being investigated, per Politico.
  • Yale rescinds an admissions offer to a student linked to the scandal.

March 28: Rudy Meredith, Yale's former women's soccer coach, is the third person to plead guilty to taking nearly $900,000 bribes in exchange for recruiting students as athletes no matter their abilities, along with 2 charges of wire fraud. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

  • California lawmakers introduce measures to make it harder for student athletes, children of alumni and donors to get preferential admissions at state universities. 
  • Former UT men’s tennis coach Michael Center, who had been fired earlier in March, appears for a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. He did not enter a plea.

March 29: 15 people made initial appearances in federal court, including TPG exec Bill McGlashan and Michelle Janavs, a former executive at the company that developed Hot Pockets.

  • Most parents didn’t speak up. Several lawyers declined to comment as well.
  • Brian Kelly, a lawyer for former casino exec Gamal Abdelaziz, downplayed the charges, calling it a "one-witness case," per AP.
  • Prosecutors said the government “expects, in the near future, to charge and arrest” other people, per Bloomberg.

April 3: Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin made their first court appearances.

  • Peter Jan Sartorio, a California packaged-food entrepreneur, became the first of 33 parents to plead guilty, per AP. He was accused of paying $15,000 for someone to correct his daughter’s answers on the ACT.

April 4: Harvard launched an official probe into its fencing coach, per the WSJ. It came hours after a Boston Globe exposé.

April 8: Federal prosecutors said Huffman, 12 other parents and the former head coach of men's tennis at the University of Texas at Austin have agreed to plead guilty. Prosecutors will seek a prison sentence between 4 and 10 months for Huffman.

  • In her first public comments since her arrest, Huffman said: "My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her."

April 9: "Full House" actress Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were originally arrested on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charge. On Tuesday, the couple — along with 14 other parents — was indicted with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering.

  • Loughlin and Giannulli have been accused of paying $500,000 in bribes for their daughters to get into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits, despite neither of them having previously participated in the sport.
  • Netflix told the AP it’s delaying the April 26 release of Huffman’s comedy, “ Otherhood," a day after her guilty plea. A new date will determined.  

April 12: Mark Riddell, 36, who was paid $10,000 to take college entrance exams on behalf of students, according to Buzzfeed News, pleads guilty to charges of mail fraud and money laundering. His sentencing is expected for July 18, meanwhile, he is indefinitely suspended from his full-time job as Director of College Entrance Exam Preparation at IMG Academy, a boarding school in Florida.

April 15: Loughlin and husband Giannulli plead not guilty to charges of mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy, the AP reports. They have not spoken publicly regarding the case.

April 18: Loughlin's eldest daughter Isabella Giannulli received a letter of intent from federal prosecutors in early April, and may be subject to a criminal investigation.

April 22: Loughlin, her husband Giannulli and more than a dozen other defendants asked to review prosecutors’ evidence before they file any “substantive motions” in the case, per CNN

April 23: Prosecutors said Laura Janke, a former University of Southern California assistant women’s soccer coach, will enter a guilty plea by May 30 to one count of racketeering conspiracy. She has also agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the case.

  • Toby MacFarlane, a former insurance executive who paid $450,000 to facilitate the admission of his children to USC as purported athletic recruits, will also plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court documents.

April 24: Michael Center, the University of Texas's former men's tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting 1 $100,000 bribe, the AP reports.

April 26: 2 Chinese families allegedly paid millions to secure spots at Yale and Stanford universities.

May 1: More families are allegedly involved in the scandal, though it's uncertain how many. 

May 7: Stephen Semprevivo is the third parent to plead guilty to paying $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown University as a tennis recruit.

May 13: Actress Felicity Huffman pleads guilty to fraud conspiracy in federal court after admitting to paying $15,000 to improve her daughter's SAT scores.

May 14: USC's former soccer coach Laura Jane, switches her plea to guilty for 1 count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, admitting to creating falsified athletic profiles for children of wealth parents, including Loughlin, per the AP. She may be called upon to testify against other suspects in the cast.

May 15: Georgetown University expelled 2 students caught up in the admissions scandal, NBC reports.

  • Adam Semprevivo — a junior at the university and one of the expelled students — filed a civil action suit, arguing that he should neither be kicked out nor receive any academic punishments following his father's illegal actions. Already, his father, Adam, has pleaded guilty to paying $400,000 in bribes to Georgetown's tennis coach Gordon Ernst.

June 12: Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer was the first to be sentenced of the 50 people involved in the scandal. He avoided prison time, even though prosecutors asked for 13 months.


After the scandal broke, multiple American news sources including The Atlantic, Vox, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times characterized it as a symptom of a broken college admissions system.  Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said it was “the worst scandal involving elite universities in the history of the United States".

Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator from Massachusetts (where all the criminal cases were filed), told news media that the scandal represented "just one more example of how the rich and powerful know how to take care of their own".

Much of the news coverage attempted to explain why anyone would have been tempted by Singer's scheme. A common attribute among the defendants was that many were rich, but not ultra-rich. According to The New York Times, college admissions at certain elite American universities had become so selective that a family would have to make a minimum donation of $10 million to inspire an admission committee to take a second look at their child.

And even for families of such means, there would be no guarantee of return on investment, while Singer was selling certainty.  In open court, he said: "I created a guarantee." The Los Angeles Times explained that there was probably also a social signaling element at work, in that admission to an elite university based purely upon an applicant's apparent merit publicly validates both the child's innate talent and the parents' own parenting skills in a way that an admission coinciding with a sizable donation does not.

In turn, others examined why certain universities had become so selective in the first place. The Atlantic pointed out that college seats are not scarce in the United States, except at a handful of universities which became selective on purpose: 

"Scarcity has the added benefit of increasing an institution's prestige. The more students who apply, and the fewer students who get in, the more selective an institution becomes, and, subsequently, the more prestigious. And parents are clawing over one another to get a taste of the social capital that comes with that.

Arizona State University (ASU) president Michael M. Crow described the “ Crisis of access to these social-status-granting institutions” as a full-blown "hysteria".  It was alleged in court filings that one of the defendant parents had named ASU as a university they were specifically trying to avoid; the non-selective university has been the “ Butt of jokes" in American television shows for many years, as well as the 2015 film Ted 2.

The inevitable result, according to Newsweek, was that the most elite institutions had created a situation in which purely meritocratic admissions had become impossible because they were already turning away too many overqualified candidates—former Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust had once said, “ We could fill our class twice over with valedictorians." It was also recognized that any workable long-term solution would need to alleviate the underlying anxiety driving the crisis, either by restructuring the college admissions process or the American labor market.

HuffPost explained that such anxiety barely exists in Canada, whose four-year universities do not show such extreme disparities in selectivity and prestige, and in turn, most Canadian employers do not rigidly discriminate between job candidates based upon where they graduated. 

In contrast, selective American universities have evolved into gatekeepers for the highest echelons of certain socially prestigious and financially lucrative industries like law and finance.  University of Oklahoma history professor Wilfred M. McClay told Newsweek: “ 'm not going to pretend there isn't a difference between Harvard and Suffolk County Community College, but I think this situation where the Supreme Court is made up entirely of Harvard or Yale Law School graduates is wrong. 

The thing driving the current scandal seems to be that ultimately parents were willing to do anything to game the system to get their kids these advantages, not because the education was better but because the legitimation of social position would be better".

I am very exasperated over that issue.  It took some of those kids I know and disrespected them because of the financial cheating.  I knew several who worked their butts off to achieve SAT and scorings even today.  One a Laotian US born young lady with a 4.4 grade average and incredible SAT scores had difficulty securing grants and loans.  Thats not right, the young lady is brilliant and will eventually wind up in Medicine Research which she is interested in…

During the Vietnam - LAOS War it was no different, the privileged like Donald T-RUMP bought there way out of the draft and three of my closest friends and two acquaintances never came home.  Some were lucky, close calls but alive.  My hatred for draft dodgers is strong and my brothers in service feel the same.  The rich bastard T-RUMP set it all up with a doctor, and beat the reaper like he always does by cheating.

  • The US now ranks 27th in the world for its levels of healthcare and education, according to a new study. 
  • This represents a significant decline from 1990, when it ranked sixth and first in the 1980’s. 
  • The nation has seen a marked decrease in educational attainment — partly the result of reduced and poorly allocated funds for elementary and high schools.  By improving its education and healthcare policies, the US could see faster economic growth.   
  • Thanks to T-RUMP and the half-brained Evangelist Ms. Betsy DeVos,  this will get worse, it has gotten worse and will decline further. She is the wrong person, at the wrong time to even step foot in Washington, she will destroy our educational system which is under attack by T-RUMP for their money for his dumbass projects.