Colleges and companies moved swiftly to distance themselves from employees swept up in a nationwide college admissions scheme, many of them coaches accused of taking bribes and others prominent parents accused of angling to get their children into top schools by portraying them as recruited athletes.
That celebrities were among the accused parents — actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman headline the list — created much buzz, but other parents charged included people prominent in law, finance, fashion, manufacturing and other fields — people who could afford the steep price.
At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents were among those charged. Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, as much as $6.5 million, to guarantee their children’s admission, officials said.
“The department is looking closely at this issue and working to determine if any of our regulations have been violated,” U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement Wednesday.
At a brief court appearance Wednesday, a judge allowed Loughlin to be released on $1 million bond and travel to the area around Vancouver, Canada, to work but otherwise imposed strict travel restrictions. Magistrate Judge Steven Kim said Loughlin must surrender her passport in December, inform the court of her travel plans and provide evidence of where she’s been if asked.
Hercules Capital, a Palo Alto, California, hedge fund, announced Wednesday it was replacing its leader, Manuel Henriquez, who was arrested in New York City and released on $500,000 bail. Henriquez and his wife, Elizabeth, of Atherton, California, were charged with participating in the scheme. Another example: Stanford fired sailing coach John Vandemoer after he was charged with accepting $270,000 in contributions to the program for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission. Many of the coaches were quickly fired or suspended by colleges. Prosecutors said the colleges themselves are not targets of the continuing investigation.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., plans to introduce legislation intended to do away with tax breaks for donations made to colleges and universities while the donor’s own child is seeking or has recently received admission to the school. Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said the scandal is proof that current U.S. tax code helps the wealthiest Americans get even further ahead. “While the prosecutor attempted to distinguish these crimes from payoffs in the form of buildings or stadiums to secure access for the undeserving, it is all part of the same corrupt system,” Wyden said in a statement Wednesday.
The ability for taxpayers to deduct charitable contributions is a cherished element of the tax code for colleges and other nonprofit institutions that count on donors to underwrite their operations.
— The Oregonian newspaper contributed to this report.