Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman among dozens charged over USA college bribery scheme

Joann Johnston
March 14, 2019

The largest college admissions fraud scam unearthed in USA history was run out of a small college preparation company in Newport Beach, California, that relied on bribes, phoney test takers and even doctored photos depicting non-athletic applicants as elite competitors to land college slots for the offspring of rich parents, prosecutors said. Around 300 law enforcement agents were involved in the arrests across the United States as part of "Operation Varsity Blues".

The consequences of Felicity Huffman's alleged actions in the shocking college admissions scam just became real.

Court documents said Ms Huffman paid $15,000 that she disguised as a charitable donation so her daughter could take part in the college entrance exam cheating scam.

Her husband, actor William H. Macy, has not been charged, although an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent stated in an affidavit that he was in the room when Huffman first heard the pitch from a scam insider.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 to have their two daughters labeled as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither is a rower. Giannulli was released on a $1 million bond.

Loughlin, of Full House fame, and Huffman, whose credits include the hit ABC show Desperate Housewives, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

The mastermind of the scheme, William "Rick" Singer, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Prosecutors in the US attorney's office in Boston say his company, Edge College & Career Network, amassed $25 million through the fraud.

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Three cooperating witnesses helped the federal authorities build their case against Singer and the participants in the scheme, which reportedly included recordings of Huffman and emails from Loughlin.

Following the arrest, Deadline reports the actress has been released on bail having to pay a $250,000 bond and surrendering her passport whilst also staying at the Los Angeles courthouse for the time being.

Her attorney declined to comment.

Prosecutors said it was up to the universities to decide what to do with students admitted through cheating.

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No students were charged, with authorities saying that in many cases the teenagers were unaware of what was going on.

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