Most of us are familiar with the classic sports movie, Varsity Blues, which turned 20 years old this year. The film taught viewers the meaning of hard work and perseverance. In the film, Jonathan Moxon, a small-town football player, seeks to live out his dream of playing football for an Ivy League college.
“The hard work of so many, sacrificed by the disrespect of a few” –Bud Kilmer, Varsity Blues
‘Operation Varsity Blues’
Unfortunately, with the recent national college scandal, dubbed, ‘Operation: Varsity Blues,’ involving many of Hollywood’s favorites, Bud’s statement has proven to be more accurate than we would have ever imagined, tarnishing the good name the sports classic has had throughout Hollywood and the education sector.
In March, over fifty people were charged in a conspiracy to falsely admit their children to prestigious universities. One girl suddenly became a pro-soccer player when he parents conveniently donated over one-million dollars to a “charity.” Another child falsely claimed she had a learning disability so she could have special assistance during a standardized test, which resulted in her receiving abnormally high scores. Another child was granted a spot on the USC crew team after her parents generously donated over $200,000 to a special account. These are just a few scenarios where wealthy, privileged parents used their fame and fortune to get their own children ahead in life.
This Tuesday, Lori Loughlin, “Aunt Becky” from the popular TV show Full House/Fuller House, along with fifteen others, have been given an additional charge of money laundering conspiracy. The claim alleges that the parents conspired with William Singer to fake their athletic abilities and standardized test scores. Singer later was arrested who then recorded conversations with the parents which helped lead to their indictment.
Unlike Jonathan in the Varsity Blues, actress Lori Loughlin and 50 others used their fame and fortune to get their children ahead in life. Even more disturbing, the charges were in response to allegations of these individuals paying half a million dollars to a fake charity organization for the sole purpose of having their children admitted to Ivy League universities, one of which was the University of Southern California.
The charity, designed to conceal the underlying reason for the donations, was organized as if it was collecting funds for underprivileged children. Nineteen individuals have all been charged with four crimes:
(1) Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud and Honest Services Mail and Wire Fraud;
(2) Money Laundering Conspiracy;
(3) Forfeiture Allegations; and
(4) Money Laundering Forfeiture Allegations.
What’s the Next Play?
In today’s society, it’s no surprise that money talks. We see it all around us, especially in the political atmosphere.
For example, lobbyists, hired by big corporations, send their army to Washington D.C. to influence legislation favoring said corporation. This is nothing new.
However, in the wake of this national scandal, it is now apparent that money talks louder than we assumed. Those with an abundance of cash, whether in politics or Hollywood, can easily manipulate the system to receive outcomes in their favor. Unfortunately, we cannot investigate every wealthy person or entity in order to discover a conspiracy or scandal. We will have to wait for whistle blowers to uncover the truth. In the meantime, we are now more aware of what is going on behind closed doors and we can at least move forward with comfort of this fact.
Does Money Talk?
The good news is that the system is not broken. Yes, bribery happens and money talks, but our criminal justice system is behaving how it should – it is holding those accountable, even the wealthy, for the wrong they have done. These criminal charges are proof that no one is above the law, no matter how famous or wealthy you may be.
To date, the following individuals have been identified as part of the alleged scandal:
- David Sidoo (Canadian businessman and former professional Canadian football player) – Paid Singer to have someone else take the standardized test in lieu of his son.
- Gregory Colburn (Oncologist in San Jose) – Paid Singer to pose as a proctor during his son’s standardized tests to fake his exam.
- Amy Colburn (Wife of Gregory) — Paid Singer to pose as a proctor during his son’s standardized tests to fake his exam.
- Gamal Abdelaziz (Former casino executive) – Paid Singer to facilitate his daughter’s admission to USC as a purported basketball recruiter.
- Diane Blake (An executive at a retail merchandising firm) — Paid Singer to facilitate daughter’s admission to USC as a purported volleyball recruit.
- Todd Blake ( Entrepreneur and investor) — Paid Singer to facilitate daughter’s admission to USC as a purported volleyball recruit.
- I-HSIN “Joey” Chen (Provides warehousing and related services for the shipping industry) – Paid Singer to pose as a proctor to correct son’s ACT exam.
- Mossimo Giannulli (Fashion designer) – Paid Singer to facilitate the admission of their two daughters to USC as purported crew recruits.
- Elizabeth Henriquez (Owner and president of a media company) – Paid Singer to pose as a proctor for their daughter’s SAT exam and to provide answers.
- Manuel Henriquez (Founder, chairman, and CEO of a publicly traded specialty finance company based in California) — Paid Singer to pose as a proctor for their daughter’s SAT exam and to provide answers.
- Douglas Hodge (Former CEO of Pacific investment Management Co) – Paid Singer to facilitate his youngest daughter’s admission to USC as a purported soccer recruit.
- Michelle Janavs (Former executive at a large food manufacture formerly owned by members of her family) – Paid Singer to facilitate son’s admission to Georgetown as a purported tennis recruit.
- Elisabeth Kimmel (Las Vegas and La Jolla resident and owner and president of a media company) – Paid Singer to facilitate admission to Georgetown as a purported tennis recruit.
- Lori Loughin (Actress, famous for her role as “Aunt Becky” in Full/Fuller House) – Paid Singer to facilitate admission of two daughters to USC as purported crew recruits.
- William McGlashan, Jr. (Senior executive at a global private equity firm) – Paid Singer to arrange for someone to fake his ACT scores.
- Marci Palatella (CEO of Preservation Distillery in Kentucky) – Paid Singer to arrange for someone to fake son’s SAT exam.
- John Wilson (President of private equity firm) – Paid Singer to facilitate son’s admission to USC as a polo recruit.
- Homayoun Zadeh (Dentistry professor at USC) – Paid Singer to facilitate daughter’s admission to USC, and
- Robert Zangrillo (CEO of Dragon Global) – Paid Singer to facilitate daughter’s transfer to USC as purported crew recruit.