Updated Aug 21, 2020 - Economy

Timeline: The major developments in the college admissions scandal

Lori Loughlin leaves a Boston courthouse in August. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In what Department of Justice prosecutors have called the biggest admissions scam in U.S. history, parents allegedly bribed coaches and paid for forged standardized tests in a conspiracy to get their children into elite American colleges.

Driving the news: "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, one of the biggest names ensnared in the scandal, pleaded guilty on Thursday to related charges and now faces two months in prison.

Key facts:

  • Orchestrator: Rick Singer, CEO of college admissions prep company, The Key
  • Number of families involved: 750
  • How much money: $25 million
  • How many years: 2011 to early 2019
  • The schools: Yale University, Wake Forest University, the University of San Diego, Stanford University, Georgetown University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles



March 12: Federal prosecutors in Boston charge at least 50 people connected to the scheme.

March 19: USC says students who may be connected to the scheme will be prohibited from registering for classes or acquiring transcripts while the institution continues its investigation.

March 25: 12 defendants, including prominent college coaches, plead not guilty.

  • The U.S. Department of Education notifies the presidents of 8 schools embroiled in the scandal that they are being investigated, per Politico.
  • Yale rescinds an admissions offer to a student linked to the scandal.

March 28: Rudy Meredith, Yale's former women's soccer coach, is the third person to plead guilty to taking nearly $900,000 bribes in exchange for recruiting students as athletes no matter their abilities, along with 2 charges of wire fraud. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

  • California lawmakers introduce measures to make it harder for student athletes, children of alumni and donors to get preferential admissions at state universities.
  • Former UT men’s tennis coach Michael Center, who had been fired earlier in March, appears for a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. He did not enter a plea.

March 29: 15 people made initial appearances in federal court, including TPG executive Bill McGlashan and Michelle Janavs, a former executive at the company that developed Hot Pockets.

  • Most parents didn’t speak up. Several lawyers declined to comment as well.
  • Brian Kelly, a lawyer for former casino exec Gamal Abdelaziz, downplayed the charges, calling it a "one-witness case," per AP.
  • Prosecutors said the government “expects, in the near future, to charge and arrest” other people, per Bloomberg.

April 3: Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin made their first court appearances.

  • Peter Jan Sartorio, a California packaged-food entrepreneur, became the first of 33 parents to plead guilty, per AP. He was accused of paying $15,000 for someone to correct his daughter’s answers on the ACT.

April 4: Harvard launched an official probe into its fencing coach, per the WSJ. It came hours after a Boston Globe exposé.

April 8: Federal prosecutors said Huffman, 12 other parents and the former head coach of men's tennis at the University of Texas at Austin have agreed to plead guilty.

  • In her first public comments since her arrest, Huffman said: "My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her."

April 9: Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were originally arrested on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charge. On Tuesday, the couple — along with 14 other parents — was indicted with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering.

  • Loughlin and Giannulli have been accused of paying $500,000 in bribes for their daughters to get into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits, despite neither of them having previously participated in the sport.
  • Netflix told the AP it’s delaying the April 26 release of Huffman’s comedy, "Otherhood," a day after her guilty plea. A new date will determined.

April 12: Mark Riddell, 36, who was paid $10,000 to take college entrance exams on behalf of students, according to Buzzfeed News, pleads guilty to charges of mail fraud and money laundering. His sentencing is expected for November 1, meanwhile, he is indefinitely suspended from his full-time job as Director of College Entrance Exam Preparation at IMG Academy, a boarding school in Florida.

April 15: Loughlin and husband Giannulli plead not guilty to charges of mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy, the AP reports. They have not spoken publicly regarding the case.

April 18: Loughlin's eldest daughter Isabella Giannulli received a letter of intent from federal prosecutors in early April, and may be subject to a criminal investigation.

April 22: Loughlin, her husband Giannulli and more than a dozen other defendants asked to review prosecutors’ evidence before they file any “substantive motions” in the case, per CNN

April 23: Prosecutors said Laura Janke, a former University of Southern California assistant women’s soccer coach, will enter a guilty plea by May 30 to one count of racketeering conspiracy. She has also agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the case.

  • Toby MacFarlane, a former insurance executive who paid $450,000 to facilitate the admission of his children to USC as purported athletic recruits, will also plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court documents.

April 24: Michael Center, the University of Texas's former men's tennis coach, pleads guilty to accepting $100,000 bribe, the AP reports.

April 26: 2 Chinese families allegedly paid millions to secure spots at Yale and Stanford universities.

May 1: More families are allegedly involved in the scandal, though it's uncertain how many.

May 7: Stephen Semprevivo is the third parent to plead guilty to paying — $400,000 — to get his son into Georgetown University as a tennis recruit.

May 13: Actress Felicity Huffman pleads guilty to fraud conspiracy in federal court after admitting to paying $15,000 to improve her daughter's SAT scores.

May 14: USC's former soccer coach Laura Jane, switches her plea to guilty for 1 count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, admitting to creating falsified athletic profiles for children of wealthy parents, including Loughlin, per the AP. She may be called upon to testify against other suspects in the case.

May 15: Georgetown University expelled 2 students caught up in the admissions scandal, NBC reports.

  • Adam Semprevivo — a junior at Georgetown and 1 of the expelled students — filed a civil action suit, arguing he should neither be kicked out nor receive any academic punishments following his father's illegal actions. Already, his father, Adam, has pleaded guilty to paying $400,000 in bribes to Georgetown's tennis coach Gordon Ernst.

June 12: Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer was the first to be sentenced of the 50 people involved in the scandal. He avoided prison time, even though prosecutors asked for 13 months.

Sept. 13: Huffman becomes the first parent sentenced in the scandal to be sentenced. She received 14 days in prison, a $30,000 fine, a year of supervised probation and 250 hours of community service.

Sept. 18: U.S. prosecutors charged Chinese national Xiaoning Sui for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest-services mail fraud, alleging that she paid $400,000 to enroll her son at UCLA as a fake soccer player.

Sept. 24: Los Angeles business executive Devin Sloane receives a 4-month prison sentence, 500 hours of community service over 2 years, a fine of $95,000 and 2 years of supervised probation for his part of the scandal.

Sept. 26: Los Angeles business executive Stephen Semprevivo receives 4 months in prison and a $100,000 fine for paying $400,000 to have his son admitted into Georgetown University as a fictitious tennis recruit.

Oct. 8: Gregory and Marcia Abbott receive a month in prison, a $45,000 fine and 250 hours of community service each for paying a college-admission fixer to boost their daughter's SAT and ACT scores, NBC reports.

Oct. 15: Actress Felicity Huffman reports to a federal prison in Northern California to start her 14-day prison sentence, according to NBC.

Oct. 21: Four more high-profile parents enter guilty pleas, the Wall Street Journal reports. Those include Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of bond giant Pacific Investment Management; Manuel Henriquez, who led specialty finance firm Hercules Capital Inc., and wife, Elizabeth Henriquez; and Michelle Janavs, whose family created Hot Pockets microwavable snacks.

  • Martin Fox, an ally of Rick Singer, also agrees to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

Oct. 22: A grand jury in Boston indicts 11 of the 15 parents who have maintained their innocence throughout the federal investigation, charging them with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • The group facing these additional charges includes Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

Nov. 13: School administrator Igor Dvorskiy pleads guilty in a Boston courtroom to conspiracy to commit racketeering. Dvorskiy had helped Singer run a test-fixing scam for students out of his school, West Hollywood College Preparatory School, according to the Los Angeles Times. His sentencing is expected on Feb. 7.

  • Toby Macfarlane, who admitted to conspiring with Singer to pass his daughter and son off as athletic recruits to the University of Southern California, is sentenced to 6 months. He will be on two years of supervised release after he leaves prison, is required to pay a $150,000 fine and serve 200 hours of community service.


Feb. 7 : The retired chief executive of Pacific Investment Management, Douglas Hodge, is sentenced to nine months in prison for what a federal judge presiding over the case called "repeated and enduring criminal conduct" in the sprawling college admissions scandal.

Feb. 25: 48-year-old Hot Pockets' heiress Michelle Janavs is sentenced to serve five months in prison and pay a $250,000 fine in connection with the college admissions scheme. Janvas pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

May 21: Loughlin and Giannulli both agreed to plead guilty. Loughlin faces two months in prison and a fine of $150,000, while Giannulli faces five months and a fine of $250,000.

Aug. 21: A federal judge accepted the sentencing deal for Loughlin and Giannulli.

Go deeper: Read more about the cheating scheme uncovered in Operation Varsity Blues

This is an ongoing story.

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