The college admissions scandal became big news once sources identified a couple famous faces among the accused. Not only did the scandal involve celebrities but also several top colleges in California, which means you probably have heard of it. This is a nationwide case, though, with federal charges. Initial charges were mainly for fraud, but the Los Angeles Times explains that after an offer from prosecutors, those defendants who did not plead guilty faced additional charges of bribery.
The prosecution told defendants that if they did not plead guilty, they would face these new charges. There were a few defendants that decided to plead guilty, but those who held firm to defend themselves did see new bribery charges against them. This increases the penalties possible upon conviction.
You may wonder why the prosecution can create new bribery charges. Federal laws say it is bribery if the bribe is for over $5,000 and involves an employee or representative of an organization that receives $10,000 or more in funding from the government. In all cases, the schools do receive federal funding in excess of $10,000, and the people who allegedly took the payments were agents of the schools.
The accusations are these parents paid bribes to administrators to change test scores or admit unqualified students, including admitting students for sports they did not play. The defense comments say these are unfounded charges and any money paid was a donation to the school, not a bribe.
Both sides seem to have good arguments for and against the new charges. Only time will tell what happens in court, though.