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White collar crimes alleged in college admissions fraud claims

Public trust in Michigan and across the country was shaken by news reports about college admissions fraud schemes involving several celebrities. Actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Gianulli were accused of white collar crimes after they allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to get  their two daughters admitted to a leading university on the West Coast, based on false claims that the girls were competitive rowers. This is but one of the dozens of alleged admission fraud cases involving a number of prestigious schools nationwide.

College admissions are typically based on standardized exams like ACT and SAT, teacher recommendations, high school grades and activities such as athletic achievements. It is alleged that influential and wealthy parents whose children do not meet the high admissions standards find other ways to get their children into these elite colleges. Methods allegedly include bribes for others to take SAT and other exams on behalf of the children, bribing coaches to falsify athletic achievements in sports in which the applicants never even participated, falsifying school records and more.

Criminal charges that could follow such activities include conspiracy to commit racketeering for participating in an illegal scheme and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. If telephones or other electronic means of communications were used instead of a mail service, charges could include conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If efforts are made to disguise or hide the source or destination of bribe money, such as the account of a fake charity, money laundering might be included in the criminal charges.

Identity fraud or theft could be added to other allegations of white collar crimes if the parents impersonate individuals with less substantial financial means to gain entrance for their children into a top college or university. Anyone in Michigan who was tempted into participating in a college admissions fraud crime might have second thoughts about it. Now might be the time to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to provide counsel and advocacy throughout any legal proceedings that might follow.

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