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Legal experts debate possible sentences for parents, orchestrators involved in college admissions scandal




University of Southern California.
University of Southern California.
Allen J. Schaben/LA Times via Getty Images

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Actress Felicity Huffman and a dozen other prominent parents have agreed to plead guilty in the sweeping college admissions cheating scam that has ensnared wealthy families and athletic coaches at some of the nation's most selective universities, federal authorities said Monday.

The "Desperate Housewives" star and the other parents will admit to charges in the scheme, which authorities say involved rigging standardized test scores and bribing coaches at such prestigious schools as Yale and Georgetown.

Huffman, 56, was accused of paying a consultant $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to boost her daughter's SAT score. Authorities say the actress also discussed going through with the same plan for her younger daughter but ultimately decided not to.

Other parents charged in the scheme include prominent figures in law, finance, fashion, the food and beverage industry and other fields.

The consultant, Rick Singer, met with Huffman and her husband, 69-year-old actor William H. Macy, at their Los Angeles home and explained to them he "controlled" a testing center and could have somebody secretly change their daughter's answers, authorities say. Singer told investigators Huffman and her husband agreed to the plan.

Singer, the consultant, pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy on March 12, the same day the allegations against the parents and coaches were made public in the so-called Operations Varsity Blues investigation. Singer secretly recorded his conversations with the parents, helping to build the case against them, after agreeing to work with investigators in the hopes of getting a lesser sentence.

With files from the Associated Press.

Guests:

Lou Shapiro, state and federal criminal defense attorney and former L.A. County public defender

Ambrosio Rodriguez, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office; he tweets @aer_attorney