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Investment chief, Texas coach step down over college cheating scandal

Actress Felicity Huffman was arrested and released on bond and Lori Loughlin was taken into custody Wednesday.

By Nicholas Sakelaris

March 13 (UPI) -- More fallout from a major college cheating scandal on Wednesday led an investment executive and the men's tennis coach at the University of Texas to step away from their posts.

Manuel Henriquez, CEO at investment house Hercules Capital, stepped down over the scandal, which has so far ensnared other executives, former coaches and two actresses. Henriquez will remain on the company's board of directors, the company said.

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The Justice Department indictment Tuesday accuses 33 wealthy parents of paying bribes for their children's admittance to a number of U.S. colleges, including Yale, Georgetown, Stanford and UCLA. The payments went toward securing undeserved athletic scholarships or high test scores, prosecutors said.

In all, 50 people were charged, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman was arrested and released late Tuesday on $250,000 bond. Loughlin was taken into FBI custody early Wednesday, Fox News reported. She was booked at a detention center and was set later to appear in court.

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At the center of the storm is William Rick Singer, the owner of a for-profit college preparation firm based in California. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

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Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of Pacific Investment Management Co., is also named in the case. Prosecutors said he paid bribes to help two of his children get into the University of Southern California as athletes and spent hundreds of thousands to get his daughter into the school. He did it again for his third child by enlisting the help of someone who would later become a cooperating witness for prosecutors, court documents show.

Other executives charged in the cheating scandal include TPG Capital senior executive William McGlashan Jr., co-chairman of international law firm Willkie Farr Gordon Caplan and Napa Valley winery owner Agustin Huneeus.

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Some of the parents paid enough in bribes to cover tuition for four years. FBI Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta said some spent between $200,000 and $6.5 million to guarantee admission for their children.

"There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy," U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling told reporters Tuesday. No students were charged in the scandal as the parents were the "prime movers of this fraud," Lelling said.

Yale said in a statement a former coach was involved in the scandal and Georgetown said a tennis coach named in the indictment had been forced out for recruitment irregularities. The University of Texas put head tennis coach Michael Center on administrative leave after the FBI accused him of taking a $100,000 bribe in 2015 to help a student gain admission. Documents show the student didn't play tennis.

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UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird said the university was a victim of an "organized criminal effort" and Center's attorney Dan Cogdell said, "He is innocent." Center has worked for UT since 2000.

USC said it's reviewing its application process.

John Owen Lowe, the son of actor Rob Lowe, responded to Hollywood's link to the scandal by saying he worked hard to get into college.

"I'm incredibly grateful that I had the privilege and opportunity to have a tutor and to afford practice test programs," he tweeted. "A lot of kids don't. And to think of them losing their chance at their dream school to someone undeserving is really, really gross."

Rob Lowe later tweeted he's "very proud" of his sons, but the post was later deleted.

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