Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin Cast As Indictees In Gross College Bribe Scam


Federal prosecutors charged 50 people today in a nationwide college admissions bribery and cheating scam. This includes Felicity Huffman from "Desperate Housewives" and Aunt Becky from "Full House." That's probably the specific reason we care.

The suspects allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their kids into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC.

Those are some prestigious, elite institutions ... and USC. It's not that hard to get into USC. You just pay them.

In most cases, the students did not know their admission was contingent on a bribe.

Dumb, rich kids are probably arrogant enough to think they are New Haven material. You can't help but feel sorry for the ones who applied to USC. They probably thought their grades and test scores were decent enough for them to get in without their parents breaking federal law.

U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling called the case the "largest college admissions scandal" the Justice Department ever prosecuted. He seemed really proud of this, as if the case was a big dorado he just caught. How did the scam work? Prosecutors claim that rich parents paid a "for-profit college admissions program" (i.e. "bribery ring") to help their kids cheat on college entrance exams and pay off coaches.

LELLING: For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected.

This is also the sort of complex logic problem that the involved students probably needed a little "extra help" answering on their entrance exams.

You could appreciate when Forrest Gump's mother traded sexual favors so he could receive a decent education. The kid had limited options. But these parents are rich. It's a bummer to realize you're too stupid to go to college, but having a trust fund makes it sting less. Just bum around Europe and put "The world is my classroom" in your Twitter bio.

Yeah, that also seems kind of fraud-like.

Here's what we find especially annoying. Back in the day, normal non-WASPy kids were doing so well on entrance exams that elite institutions started prioritizing expensive, intentionally exclusive extra curricular activities to give rich snots who weren't already Bush Family "legacies" an edge. This scam used those activities as a path to admission even if the rich kids weren't actual participants. Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli bribed their daughter's way into USC as a crew coxswain. The kid didn't even row competitively but they're pretending she's steering the damn boat. When you're paying $500,000, you aim high. This also bolsters our own pet conspiracy theory that crew and lacrosse are not real activities.

Loughlin might do hard time be temporarily inconvenienced, and one of her spoiled brat daughters didn't even appreciate college. Last year, Olivia Jade whined about the challenge of balancing college with her well-developed lifestyle as an otherwise useless person. This is shaping up to be the sort of movie no one would cast Loughlin in because it's too good.

"I don't know how much of school I'm gonna attend," [Jade] shared with her nearly 2 million [YouTube] subscribers, after explaining her extensive work schedule. "But I'm gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of like game days, partying…I don't really care about school, as you guys all know."

LOL. She's going to talk to all the deans and come to an arrangement on how much school she can fit into her burgeoning career of talking about herself on camera. Really, she's just there for the "experience" of puking in the sorority house bathroom. She doesn't have time for all the stuff with the books. She later apologized in another rambling YouTube video.

JADE: I said something super ignorant and stupid, basically. And it totally came across that I'm ungrateful for college — I'm going to a really nice school. I'm just gonna be successful at YouTube and not have to worry about school.

Good luck with that.

Huffman and her husband, fellow actor William H. Macy, faked a $15,000 "charitable contribution" so their eldest daughter could participate in the rigged entrance exam scheme. They almost double-dipped in duplicity for their younger daughter, but Huffman reportedly changed her mind or ran out of bribery money. Loughlin and Huffman were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. That's a lot of fraud. It's unclear why Macy wasn't named in the indictment. Maybe he picked up a few tricks from working with David Mamet.

Federal agents had a "cooperating witness" who helped them record phone calls with the crooked parents. The witness also claims Macy was present and agreed to the scam when it was explained to them. The feds also obtained emails from Loughlin that incriminated her up, down, and sideways. We're not trying to help you commit fraud but just as a heads-up, don't use Gmail to communicate with your accomplices.

FBI agent Joseph R. Bonavolonta looked directly into the metaphorical camera and accused those involved of promoting a "culture of corruption and greed."

"You can't lie and cheat to get ahead because you will get caught," he warned.

Bonavolonta's statement sounds like the moralizing tag scenes at the end of He-Man episodes. This is terrible and all, but can we at least agree this isn't so awful a crime that streaming services have to pull "Desperate Housewives" from their rotation? And are Macy's films now compromised? We already lost Michael Jackson. This could be tough year.

[ABC News / NYTimes]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins is playing NOW at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo. All Wonketters welcome.

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