On March 15, 2019, according to ABC 7 News, the FBI received a report that Rudy Meredith sought a bribe to get Morrie Tobin’s daughter into Yale. The FBI investigated the “Operation Varsity Blues,” seeking how many people were responsible in the bribing scheme of elite colleges. Meredith complied with investigators in the hopes of “getting a lesser sentence.” Near the end of the report, ABC 7 News stated that, “at least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents” were charged in committing fraudulent activity.
Included in this list were Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, who were prominent celebrities in Hollywood, as well as Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli.
In a National Public Radio (NPR) article by Colin Dwyer on April 9, 2019, “Huffman and 12 other parents plead guilty for money laundering and fraud.” 50 people were charged, according to a 6 Action News article. What began as a small investigation became a widespread problem within elite colleges.
Based on the indictment report that was posted at justice.gov, the charges to commit conspiracy of “mail and wire fraud provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.” With their guilty plea announced on April 9, Huffman, Loughlin and others would have a lesser sentence. For Loughlin and her husband in particular, it is very possible that even with a plea bargain of a “two year sentence, prosecutors would recommend four years,” according to a TMZ news article.
Several professors expressed their viewpoint over the admissions scandal. Dr. Matt Pierlott, an associate professor and chair of the philosophy department at WCU states that, “ethically, we should be concerned. [The college admissions scandal] is a deceptive process and tarnishes the reputation of the institutions.” Dr. Pierlott goes on to state that “scandals in businesses and government institutions happen far too often. This is an example of how people of affluence and influence can corrupt a system.” He concluded by saying, “Money is a temptation.”
Despite the supposed commute sentence, there has been frequent backlash over social media and major networks over what these celebrities have done. According to a New York Times article by Elizabeth A. Harris, the Hallmark channel owner stated that the company “would no longer work with shows featuring the actress Lori Loughlin.” Known for her role as Aunt Becky in the ABC sitcom “Full House,” Loughlin was a well-known celebrity for TV series such as “When Calls the Heart” and a TV movie series “Garage Sale Mysteries.” For Huffman, her rise to fame was in “Desperate Housewives,” along with an on and off relationship with actor William H. Macy, known for his roles in “Fargo” and “Shameless.”
With Huffman and Loughlin trying for two years in jail instead of 20 years, questions that remain are: What repercussions will be put in place for future cases of fraud? Also, what does this indictment mean to WCU students, and how does this event truly affect college enrollment?
Most students at WCU took the SATs and know how stringent the test-taking and application processes are. Students get in by merit, not by bribes. Despite the drawback of the scandal, the main lesson learned from this ordeal is that choices — no matter the individual’s background or status — can affect the outcome of one’s career and personal life.
For questions concerning WCU enrollment requirements, check the Office of Admissions located near Sykes or by viewing their website at wcupa.edu.
Nicholas Bartelmo is a third-year student majoring in history. NB790429@wcupa.edu