Actress Lori Loughlin, who is accused with her husband of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters illicitly admitted to USC as part of a nationwide college-admissions-cheating scam, appeared before a federal judge in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday.
Loughlin, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on “Full House,” surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday morning after arriving back in Los Angeles. During an afternoon court appearance, a judge allowed her to be released on $1 million bond, the same amount her husband — designer Mossimo Giannulli — posted Tuesday. The judge allowed the actress to continue traveling to Canada for work, but she will have to surrender her passport by mid-December.
Meanwhile, officials at USC said any pending applicants who are tied to the alleged nationwide cheating scandal “will be denied admission” to the university.
“We are going to conduct a case-by-case review for current students and graduates that may be connected to the scheme alleged by the government,” according to USC. “We will make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed. Some of these individuals may have been minors at the time of their application process.”
The cheating probe, which was dubbed Varsity Blues and was announced Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Boston, has led to the indictments of 50 people, including wealthy parents, college athletics coaches and administrators and the alleged ringleader, Newport Beach businessman William Rick Singer, 58. Singer pleaded guilty Tuesday in Boston federal court to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Loughlin and Giannulli area accused of paying $500,000 to have their daughters admitted to USC by positioning them as recruits to the university’s crew team, even though neither of them ever participated in the sport.
Also snared in the probe was “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, who is accused of paying $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to Singer’s nonprofit Key Worldwide Foundation to aid her oldest daughter’s university prospects. A confidential informant allegedly told investigators that he told Huffman he could arrange for a third party to correct her daughter’s answers on the SAT after she took it. She ended up scoring 1420 — 400 points higher than she had gotten on a PSAT taken a year earlier, The Washington Post reported.
Huffman also contemplated running a similar scam to help her younger daughter, but ultimately did not pursue it, the federal complaint alleges.
Huffman’s husband, award-winning actor William H. Macy, was not charged in the case. He attended his wife’s federal court hearing Tuesday. Huffman was released on $250,000 bond.
She and other defendants implicated in the investigation have been ordered to appear in court in Boston March 29. Loughlin, 54, and Huffman, 56, are both charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Federal authorities said the scheme was designed by Singer to get the children of well-heeled parents into elite universities, including USC and UCLA.
Several coaches at local universities were arrested in connection with the alleged $25 million scheme. Federal prosecutors said wealthy parents would pay thousands of dollars to get their children admitted to prestigious universities by passing them off as recruited athletes — regardless of their athletic ability — or by helping them cheat on college entrance exams.
Federal prosecutors said that in some cases, the ruse over fake athletic recruiting included the use of staged or faked photos of the students posing with athletic equipment or appearing to compete in sports they did not actually play.
A federal indictment unsealed in federal court in Boston Tuesday named 50 defendants from across the country.
The alleged conspiracy led to arrests Tuesday by federal agents in multiple states. Athletic coaches from USC, UCLA, Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others, were implicated, as well as parents and entrance-exam administrators.
There was no indication that the schools themselves were involved in the scheme.
USC announced Tuesday that two of its employees implicated in the scandal — water polo coach Jovan Vavic and senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel — had been fired. UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo was placed on leave.
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