While the initial shock of the college admissions cheating scandal has more or less worn off, the fallout continues for those involved in the mess. Dozens of parents, coaches, and college administrators were arrested and charged with crimes ranging from mail fraud to money laundering. Some of the accused, like actress Felicity Huffman, have copped to their crimes and pleaded guilty to the charges in plea deals that reduced the prison sentences they're facing. Others, however, are taking their chances with a judge and jury. Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli rejected plea deals, and as a result, were hit with more serious charges. They're facing 20 years in prison, which seems like a risky gamble.
And now that we're hearing what part of their defense is going to be, we have a feeling it's a gamble that isn't going to pay off for them. Lawyers for many of the accused parents, including Loughlin and Giannulli, say that the money the parents paid to get their kids into college was intended as a charitable donation, not a bribe, so the parents committed no crimes. O ... kay?
The sneak peek into their defense was revealed in a status conference during a pretrial hearing in Boston, where the cases are being tried in federal court. The parents who did not accept plea deals are facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering, and all have pleaded not guilty. Lawyers for the parents argued that their clients paid very large sums of money to charities or sports organizations, and therefore they did not pay it as a bribe and it's not a crime.
We're not lawyers, but paying someone $200,000 to have someone else take your kid's SAT exams doesn't sound like a charitable donation. These parents paid huge sums of money to fake their kids' athletic profiles, cheat on college entrance exams, and guarantee their kids spots in schools they would not have gotten into on their own merits. Charity, indeed.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen pushed back against the ridiculous notion that these parents were making charitable donations and not bribing their kids into school. He says, "It doesn’t matter if the money went to the coach's program or the coach directly. A bribe is simply a quid pro quo, it doesn’t matter where the money went". It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. But we have to say, we think they should have taken the deals.