Las Vegans among wealthy parents accused in college admissions scam

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Two famous actresses are among dozens of people criminally charged and arrested Tuesday in a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal.  Two people with ties to Las Vegas have been charged in connection to the case as well.

Officials with the Justice Department say they were part of a scam that offered fake test scores or athletic profiles to secure spots for students at elite colleges.  Just hours after federal officials announced a sweeping indictment, some of the 50 people alleged to be involved in a college admissions bribery scandal began appearing in court.

Along with celebrities, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among 33 others named in the complaint that outlines a scheme that prosecutors say included bribes to prominent universities totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

In one example, the head women’s soccer coach at Yale in exchange for $400k accepted an applicant as a recruit for the Yale women’s team, even though the applicant didn’t play competitive soccer,” said Andrew Lelling, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

The complaint names former Wynn executive Gamal Avdelaziz and media executive Elisabeth Kimmel as the two Las Vegas parents who were investigated in the case.  Court documents show investigators say Abdelaziz paid $300,000 to secure his daughter’s admission to USC as a basketball recruit.  There was just one problem: She didn’t play basketball.

READ: Affadavit of Gamal (Aziz) Abdlaziz and Elisabeth Kimmel

Investigators say the central figure in the case, William Rick Singer, created a fake athletic profile for her.

The accusations against Kimmel are similar. Court documents show she paid Singer for fake athletic profiles for her daughter and son to Georgetown and USC, respectively.

The profile even included a purported fake picture of Kimmel’s son pole vaulting.

8 News NOW viewers were quick to weigh in on our Facebook page: 

A viewer by the name of Jason said, “It’s not that we haven’t known that this exists. They finally got caught.”

Stacey said, “This sickens me!!”  While Shelly said, “Is there no honesty left in this world?”

In several other cases, college admission exams like the ACT’s were also doctored or taken by other people.

Las Vegas ACT Instructor Ryan Fitzgibbons says this is a slap in the face to the students who are working hard to get into college.

“So the majority of them are trying to do things the right way, and we hope that colleges will see that and reflect that accordingly,” Fitzgibbons said.

Prosecutors agree, saying students are the victims of the adults’ alleged scheme.

“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was not,” Lelling said. 

Prosecutors say the majority of parents paid between $250 to $400,000 for Singer’s services.  

At least one family paid $6.5 million for guaranteed admission.

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