More Than Half of Indicted Parents Wanted USC
This week’s college admission scandal, deemed “Operation Varsity Blues” by the FBI, indicted at least 50 people, including some parents who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to illegally obtain entrance to “elite” universities for their kids.
Actress Lori Loughlin, one of the indicted parents, allegedly helped her daughter gain entrance into the University of Southern California by paying $500,000 to a corrupt “facilitator.”
Her daughter is friends with Rick and Tina Caruso’s daughter. Both women are freshman at USC and belong to the same sorority. They are also considered social media influencers and have thousands of followers.
USC is on spring break and the girls were on a cruise in the Bahamas on Caruso’s 216-ft. yacht Invictus, which can accommodate 12 guests and 19 crew members.
When the news broke about Loughlin, her daughter left the yacht the next day. And Rick Caruso, owner of the Palisades Village mall, said in a statement, “Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interest to return home.”
Caruso is the chair of the board of trustees at USC, and according to a recent USCTrojanFamily article (“The Caruso Family Legacy Stretches Across USC”), the Carusos have donated more than $50 million to the university.
In a March 14 Daily Trojan story (“USC Launches Internal Investigation into Alleged Admissions Bribery Case”), Interim President Wanda Austin announced that USC had rescinded and denied admission to those who are seeking admittance for next year, who have been connected to the allegations.
The story noted that “Homayoun Zadeh, a USC dentistry professor, was placed on leave after being named in the federal indictment, the memo said. Zadeh allegedly plotted to bribe former senior associate athletics director Donna Heinel to admit his daughter as a lacrosse recruit, though she never played the sport.”
Late this afternoon, an L.A. Times story (“More Wealthy Parents Could be Swept Up in Widening College Admissions Scandal”) stated: “Several elite Southern California prep schools have received subpoenas from prosecutors seeking information about some of the students involved in the fraud case.
“Although the prep schools are not targets of the investigation, prosecutors want to know whether the parents and others accused in the case sought or received help from the schools, sources told The Times.”
Vintage Grocers owner Paige Laurie, according to CBS News and the L.A. Times October 2005 (“Wal-Mart Heiress Accused of Cheating Gives Back USC Degree”), returned her 2004 diploma to USC in 2005, after a former roommate, Elena Martinez told the media that she had written term papers for Laurie for more than three years. According to the Times, the family fortune comes from Laurie’s grandfather, Bud Walton, who was brother and business partner of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
Vintage Grocers closed at the Palisades and Westlake Village locations on Friday, March 15. Both are Caruso properties.