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Federal Fraud Charges Filed Against Dozens in College Admissions Scam

Posted On: April 3rd, 2019   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
Computer button with the word "admission" on it

The college admissions scandal, also referred to as “Operation Varsity Blues,” is a complex scheme whereby dozens of wealthy people allegedly bribed colleges to get their children admitted. The bribery involved parents, educational consultants, coaches, and universities across the county, and has resulted in some very serious federal fraud charges. Many have already pled guilty.

If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands how the federal justice system works. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, our Columbus federal defense lawyers have the skills and experience you need to face your charges. Call us at (614) 500-3836, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation of your case.

The Federal Crimes that the Defendants are Facing

After a year-long investigation, dozens were charged in Boston in March 2019 with the following crimes:

Wire Fraud

Wire fraud charges cover any attempt to commit fraud via phone, email, or other electronic means of communication. Because the scheme involved multiple participants across the country, much of their communication likely took place over the phone or email.

Mail Fraud

Defendants are charged with mail fraud when there is an attempt to commit fraud via the United States Postal Service or private carriers such as UPS or FedEx. If it is alleged that you attempted to commit this offense, any use of the mail can result in fraud charges.

Honest Services Fraud

This offense is charged when the alleged actions involve a breach of public trust. It is alleged that the defendants in Operation Varsity Blues breached the public trust because the scandal involved public universities, private universities that receive federal funding, and the standardized testing system.

Conspiracy to Commit Fraud

The federal government alleges that the participants worked together in order to commit fraud. However, the federal government does not need to prove that each of the participants knew each other, or that each necessarily committed a crime. All the government needs to prove is that there was an agreement among the parties, and that at least one of the members committed an “overt act” in furtherance of the crime.

Many of the defendants pled guilty almost immediately and presumably will receive lighter sentences in exchange for their continued cooperation. This is problematic for the other involved parties, as those who have pled guilty may be willing to testify against them or otherwise corroborate the government’s case.

Increased Pressure from Federal Prosecutors

Approximately three weeks after the initial fraud charges, federal prosecutors brought additional charges against the remaining defendants for money laundering. The money laundering charges arose from the claim that the parents would make “donations” to a charitable foundation operated by the scheme’s ringleader. The funds paid to the foundation were then used to bribe college officials to obtain admission.

It’s interesting that prosecutors did not bring this charge at the very outset, and many believe that this may simply be a tactic to pressure the remaining defendants to plead guilty.

Potential Consequences

The crimes involved in Operation Varsity Blues are very serious. No one has yet been sentenced, but convictions on the above crimes carry possible prison sentences, and hefty fines. In addition, some of the defendants have already been fired from their jobs, and many have had their reputations destroyed.

Facing Federal Fraud Charges? Call LHA Today

As demonstrated by the college admissions scandal, federal prosecutors can be very aggressive, and the penalties for federal crimes can be harsh. If you’ve been charged with fraud under federal law, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands how the system works. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we have years of experience representing those facing federal charges, and are ready to fight for your rights and freedom.

To schedule a free and confidential case consultation, contact us today at (614) 500-3836.

I can FINALLY breathe easy now. I want to thank Mr. Bowen and all the attorneys that helped me with this case.

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