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Lori Loughlin appeared before a judge on Wednesday afternoon for the first time and had her bond set at $1 million after her arrest in a nationwide college admissions scandal.
The former Full House star was taken into custody Wednesday morning by the FBI, a day after she was indicted along with 49 others — including more than 30 parents and nine coaches — who are accused of cheating the collegiate system in order for their children to be admitted into upper-echelon universities.
Loughlin was in Canada when the indictments came down. The judge is permitting the actress to travel to British Columbia, where she is filming a project in Vancouver.
Fellow actress Felicity Huffman was among those indicted in what authorities dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” She was released on a $250,000 bond and was among 13 defendants who made their initial court appearances on Tuesday, hours after the news broke.
The scheme involved parents paying the founder of a college prep business, William “Rick” Singer, of Newport Beach, California, to have someone take the SAT or ACT for their children, according to authorities. Prosecutors allege Singer also paid around $25 million in bribes to coaches and at least one administrator to pretend clients’ children were athletic recruits, thereby guaranteeing college admission.
Singer pleaded guilty in Boston federal court Tuesday to felony charges, which included racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000, through Singer’s operation, in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the University of Southern California’s crew team — even though they did not participate in crew — thereby guaranteeing their admission in the college, according to documents. The couple faces charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
On Tuesday, shortly after news broke of the indictments, USC president Wanda M. Austin sent an email to students in which she said the school was the “victim.”
“At this time, we have no reason to believe that admissions employees or senior administrators were aware of the scheme or took part in any wrongdoing — and we believe the government concurs in that assessment,” she wrote in an email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Andrew Lelling with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, said Tuesday during a media conference that authorities did not believe any college was a “co-conspirator” in the scam. And, so far, no students were being charged.
Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, are accused of disguising a $15,000 charitable payment in the bribery scheme. The charging papers refer to Macy as “spouse.” He hasn’t been indicted, but he did appear in court with Huffman on Tuesday. Like Loughlin, Huffman faces the charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
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