Dozens Facing Federal Charges in College Admissions-Related Scam
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Federal Charges on Thursday, April 4, 2019
You have no doubt heard about the college admissions scam, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, wherein 50 people were charged with bribing admissions and standardized testing personnel in order to gain college acceptances for their children. The scandal has received widespread media attention due to the fact that it involves several high-profile people, including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, our Charlotte RICO lawyers have experience in representing people charged with fraud and related white-collar crimes. We use our extensive knowledge and experience to mount an aggressive defense and fight for you to obtain a fair result. If you’re facing charges, call us at (980) 237-4579, or complete the online contact form to schedule a free consultation of your case.
Some of the defendants in Operation Varsity Blues have been charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, honest services mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud. These are federal crimes because they crossed state lines.
Prosecutors had several options as to where to bring the case. The mastermind behind the scheme, William Rick Singer, operated his business in Newport Beach, California. Huffman resides in Los Angeles, and Loughlin works in Canada. Other defendants also resided outside of Boston, including four who live in New York City. The universities involved in the scam included Georgetown, University of Southern California, Yale, and other elite colleges across the country.
This case is a good reminder as to how quickly a federal case can spiral out of control, leaving you to defend yourself far from home and against the full prosecutorial reach of the United States Department of Justice.
Wire, Mail, and Honest Services Fraud Charges
The defendants are being charged with mail and wire fraud, because the scheme involved the use of the United States Postal Service and phone system. Mail fraud is broadly defined under federal law as any attempt to commit fraud via the postal system or private carriers such as FedEx or UPS. Similarly, wire fraud is any attempt to commit fraud via the telephone or other means of electronic communication such as email.
Honest services mail fraud is a form of mail fraud where the actions of a party involved a violation of the public trust. Because the scheme involved public universities and private colleges that receive federal funding, federal prosecutors have a legitimate basis for arguing that the scheme was a violation of public trust.
It’s also worth pointing out that the defendants are being charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. By charging the defendants with conspiracy, prosecutors do not need to prove that each of the involved parties committed fraud, but rather, they only intended to commit the illegal act.
Some of the people charged have already pled guilty, notably William Singer. They have not been sentenced, but RICO/fraud charges can carry the following potential penalties:
- A prison term of up to 20 years
- Fines of up to $25,000
Due to the wide-ranging nature of the offenses defendants in Operation Varsity Blues are facing, their punishments vary, as well. If you’re facing charges similar to Singer, Huffman, or Loughlin, it’s important to retain the help of a skilled Charlotte criminal defense lawyer right away.
Contact Randall & Stump, PLLC for Help
Getting charged with any federal crime is a very serious matter. Federal prosecutors are aggressive, and a conviction could carry serious consequences. Don’t let prosecutors tell you that you’re guilty, and don’t let them convince you that cooperation will guarantee leniency. You need someone on your side who will fight for you to get a fair result.