More wealthy parents under scrutiny by prosecutors in college admissions scandal

Among those charged, clockwise from top left: J. Mossimo Giannulli, Lori Loughlin; William "Rick" Singer; Felicity Huffman; Yale coach Rudy Meredith; former Stanford coach John Vandemoer; USC coach Jovan Vavic.
(EPA / Shutterstock / AP / Getty Images / L.A. Times)

As the college admissions scandal investigation widens, more parents are coming under scrutiny.

Sources familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it say several parents and their attorneys have been informed they are the subject of the federal inquiry.

More than 750 parents used self-described “master coach” William “Rick” Singer’s services, according to prosecutors.


While 33 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.

Some of the parents charged earlier this month are under pressure to cooperate with authorities and potentially offer more evidence. One source said some of the parents are being given a short window to consider a deal or potentially face additional charges.

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The scheme, which began in 2011, centered on a Newport Beach college placement firm run by Singer. Wealthy parents are accused of paying Singer to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and to falsify athletic records of students to enable them to secure admission to elite schools, including UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown, court records show.

Prosecutors allege that Singer instructed parents to donate funds to a fake charity he had established as part of the scheme. Most of the parents paid at least $200,000, but some spent up to $6.5 million to guarantee their children admission to top universities, authorities said. Parents were then able to deduct the donation from their income taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The scheme itself was fairly simple, prosecutors said: Singer instructed parents to seek extended time for their children on ACT and SAT exams. In at least one instance, a student claimed to have a learning disability to obtain medical documentation required by the College Board and ACT Inc. to grant additional time on the tests, according to court documents.

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Meanwhile, a dozen athletic coaches, test administrators and others charged in the nationwide college admissions scandal — including former USC senior assistant athletic director Donna Heinel — pleaded not guilty Monday to a variety of fraud and conspiracy charges.

The group was arraigned in threes and declined to comment as they entered the federal courthouse in Boston surrounded by TV cameras.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.