- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

It was like a red carpet event Wednesday outside the federal courthouse in Boston, as reporters and gawkers crowded to see the dozen defendants, including two Hollywood stars, charged in the college admissions bribery scandal make initial appearances before a magistrate judge.

There were few smiles inside Judge M. Page Kelley’s packed courtroom, and defendants — including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — said very little. None was asked to enter a plea.

Outside the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, reporters stood behind fences to wait for the well-heeled defendants, including the Oscar-nominated Miss Huffman and Miss Loughlin, known for her role as Aunt Becky in “Full House” and “Fuller House.”

Both women are charged with bribery in the federal investigation that has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents who sought a “side door” for their children into elite universities like Harvard, Yale and Georgetown.

Miss Huffman is alleged to have paid $15,000, and Miss Loughlin and her husband, jeans designer Mossimo Giannulli, $500,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, who already has pleaded guilty to money-laundering and obstruction of justice charges. Mr. Singer, 58, is cooperating with investigators with hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.

While the actresses have gained the headlines in the three-week-old scandal revealed last month by the U.S. attorney in Boston and the FBI, the drama is still unfolding for the other parents, numbering more than 30, wrapped up in what U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling called the largest college admissions scandal in the nation’s history.

Mr. Singer headed The Edge College & Career Network, a college admissions consulting firm, and the Key Worldwide Foundation, a bogus charity through which he received “donations” from parents and bribed coaches, test proctors and officials at elite schools. The scheme collected more than $25 million, and his list of clients included high-powered attorneys, advertising executives, investment bankers, real estate developers and vintners.

One such parent who was expected in the Boston court Wednesday was Gordon Caplan, former co-chairman of the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, based in New York. He is accused of paying $75,000 to get a test proctor to correct the answers on his daughter’s admissions exam after she had taken it. Mr. Caplan’s firm said after his arrest that he has been placed on a leave of absence.

Legal activities preceding Wednesday’s hearing reveal that some defendants are seeking to avoid prison time.

CBS News reported that a “prison consultant” has been hired by at least one parent to find out about the grueling nature of incarceration.

Attorneys for water services businessman Devin Sloane and packaged frozen foods magnate Peter Sartorio said they are working on plea agreements with federal prosecutors.

Meanwhile, an attorney for boutique advertising executive Jane Buckingham had requested that she appear in court by video conference Wednesday because flying from California to Boston would “cause inconvenience.”

Prosecutors said late last month that they would charge of clients with money laundering by the end of May, citing evidence from court-authorized wiretaps last summer.

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