Mocked and publicly shamed, parents in admissions scandal now face a judge

Lori Loughlin, left, and Felicity Huffma will appear in a federal court in Boston next Wednesday. (A
Lori Loughlin, left, and Felicity Huffman will appear in a federal court in Boston next week.
(Associated Press)

They have been the objects of rage, mockery and countless articles.

Some have already lost jobs.

But in the coming days, many of the parents in the college admissions scandal will enter a courtroom in Boston to face criminal charges. And in doing so, the public will begin to see how they respond to the accusations against them.

Fifteen parents charged in a scheme using William “Rick” Singer’s Newport Beach company are making appearances Friday in federal court. A dozen more — including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — will be in the same court Wednesday.


The appearances of the actresses are expected to generate intense media coverage. But each defendant is facing a different set of circumstances and varying legal strategies.

Here is what to look for:

How many are cooperating with authorities?

That is unclear.

So far, those who helped create the scam have been cooperating.


Singer, the scheme’s admitted mastermind, has already pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. John Vandemoer, the former sailing coach at Stanford University, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of racketeering conspiracy.

On Thursday, Rudy Meredith, the former Yale women’s soccer coach, admitted to pocketing bribes from parents and pleaded guilty in Boston to charges of fraud and conspiracy.

Judge Mark L. Wolf accepted the guilty plea from Meredith, who has been cooperating with authorities in Massachusetts for nearly a year, though the judge expressed concerns that prosecutors hadn’t addressed the full extent of his misdeeds.

Meredith became the third person to plead guilty in the wide-ranging scheme to slip the children of wealthy and powerful families into the some of the country’s preeminent schools by rigging college entrance exams, bribing test proctors, fabricating athletic credentials and paying off college coaches and administrators.

Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts have implicated 50 people in the fraud, including Hollywood actresses, a fashion designer and titans of business and finance.

FULL COVERAGE: Dozens charged — including Hollywood actresses — in connection with college admissions scheme »

Why might parents eventually work with prosecutors?

Some of those named in the charges are under pressure from federal prosecutors to make deals, which could occur in the coming week as the defendants go to court.

Some of those were caught on wiretaps talking about cheating and bribes aimed at getting their kids into elite colleges, court records show. There are also documented emails, checks and financial transfers for payments to Singer’s charity and businesses owned by several coaches linked to the scam.


Legal experts have said that evidence would likely weigh on some parents to make deals.

Are more parents likely to be charged?

Prosecutors hinted Thursday that more charges could be forthcoming. The judge in the case asked whether there was a superseding indictment concerning another father, unnamed in court filings, who allegedly paid $1.2 million for Meredith to facilitate his daughter’s admittance to Yale as a recruited soccer player. The student is referred to in court papers as “Yale Applicant 1.”

A prosecutor told the judge: “There haven’t been charges publicly revealed about the family of Yale Applicant 1.”

Singer has boasted that more than 750 parents used his services. But sources have said only a relatively small number are suspected of illegal activity.

While dozens have been charged, the sources say prosecutors have sent subpoenas to high schools in Southern California with names of students whose parents have not been charged — which suggests authorities are preparing to expand the number of prosecutions.

Ormseth reported from Boston and Winton from Los Angeles. | Twitter: @matthewormseth | Twitter: @LAcrimes


The stories shaping California

Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.