College Admissions Scandal and Its’ Legal Implications

Over 50 people, including celebrities, CEOs, and administrators, have been charged following the long-running college admissions scandal. Those charged paid over $25 million to ensure their children were admitted to elite universities, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California, despite the students not having the qualifying credentials. Among those charged, the most notable are Lori Loughlin, from “Full House,” her husband and fashion designer, Mossimo Giannulli, and Felicity Huffman, from “Desperate Housewives.” Loughlin and Giannulli were indicted for allegedly paying $500,000 to have their two daughters designated as crew recruits to guarantee admission to USC, despite neither girl ever having done crew. Huffman, meanwhile, was indicted for allegedly paying an organization $15,000 to help her daughter cheat on the SAT.

The charges for the parents include racketeering, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. At the heart of this recent story and scandal are several fraud charges. Mail fraud and wire fraud are broad terms that cover any scheme sent via mail or wire intended to deprive someone else of money or assets using fraudulent means. Examples include investment scams, “foreign inheritance” emails, and Ponzi schemes. These charges are punishable through federal law. Mail fraud uses U.S. mail or a private mail carrier to defraud someone for money, property, or what is referred to as “honest services.” If you are convicted of mail fraud, you could spend up to 20 years in federal prison and be ordered to pay a substantial fine. Wire fraud is very similar to mail fraud, but instead uses the phone, fax, email, and other electronic communications to carry out a fraudulent scheme. The potential penalties are the same as a mail fraud conviction.

While mail and wire fraud are dealt with at the federal level, Florida law addresses some of the serious offenses the parents have been charged with, including racketeering. In fact, Florida’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act closely mirrors that of the Federal RICO Act. A violation of Florida’s RICO Act alleges participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering. The crime is charged as a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years. Florida law defines “racketeering activity” as soliciting, coercing, or intimidating another person to commit criminal charges.

Florida law also directly deals with obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice refers to a variety of different crimes and acts, which prevent an officer from performing their duties. Some common examples of obstruction are resisting arrest, alerting evidence, fleeing from police, or interfering with an investigation. Penalties for obstruction of justice depend on the specific offense committed and range from a misdemeanor to felony charges. Some of these penalties include five years, 30 years, or even life imprisonment depending on the circumstances of the offense.

Since all of these offenses are serious and complex, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

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I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

Earl from Mesquite
Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink
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