The Justice Department charged 33 parents on Tuesday in a massive cheating and bribing scheme to get their kids into elite colleges. Federal investigators charged 50 people in all, indicting test administrators, athletic coaches and a number of wealthy parents from across the country, including actresses Lori Loughin from Full House and Felicity Huffman from Desperate Housewives. So far, they have not made a comment about the charges.
According to investigators the scam, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by the FBI, revealed a wide-ranging web of bribery and fraud, including cheating on admissions exams, faking involvement in sports by photoshopping students onto the bodies of athletes and even falsifying learning disabilities.
The pressure to get into elite institutions is high, and the main gatekeepers to these competitive universities are admissions officers.
Sara Harberson, a former Associate Dean of Admissions for UPENN and former Dean of Admissions at Franklin and Marshall College told us, “What would always helps students if they were tagged and their family had a lot of financial resources. You were really looking at seven figure donations 8 figure donations. But sometimes six figures plus a connection with someone on the board was even more powerful.”
VICE News spoke to five of them to find out what it’s really like behind a process that remains closed to most people.
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