WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Dozens of people, many affiliated with prestigious American universities, face racketeering charges over allegedly facilitating cheating on ACT and SAT tests and bribing college coaches, according to an indictment in US District Court in Massachusetts.
Athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, and Georgetown, among others, were also implicated as well as parents and exam administrators, federal prosecutors said. The indictment accuses defendants of committing crimes between 2011 and 2019.
Wake Forest University’s Head Volleyball Coach Bill Ferguson was among those charged. He faces a count of conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Wake Forest officials said in a news release Tuesday they are aware of allegations regarding Ferguson.
“The University has retained outside legal counsel to look into this matter,” the university said in a statement. “Wake Forest has placed Ferguson on administrative leave and named Randi Smart interim coach, effective immediately. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were also named in the case.
Loughlin, best known for her role in the sitcom “Full House,” and Huffman, best known for her role on TV’s “Desperate Housewives,” were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.
A law enforcement source confirms to CNN that Huffman was arrested in Los Angeles.
Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to an organization that then facilitated cheating for her daughter on the SATs, the indictment said. Huffman also discussed the scheme in a recorded phone call with a cooperating witness, the indictment said.
The purpose of the alleged scam was to help student athletes get into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic ability, according to the indictment.
It alleges that a third party took the ACT and SAT college entrance exams in place of students. The documents also allege that some defendants created fake athletic profiles for students to make them appear to be successful athletes and get them into college.
The FBI’s Boston office said on Twitter that dozens of people have been charged in the nationwide college admissions cheating and recruitment scandal.
Much of the indictment revolves around William Rick Singer, the founder of a for-profit college counseling and preparation business known as “The Key.”
As laid out in the indictment, Singer allegedly paid college coaches to claim that a prospective student should be accepted to college because the student was a recruit for their sports team. However, Singer and the coaches knew that the student was not a competitive player and that his or her athletic profile was fake, the indictment said.