Los Angeles: US actress Lori Loughlin appeared in federal court in downtown Los Angeles in connection with a massive college admissions scam involving other celebrities and top industry CEOs. Bail for the “Full House” star was set at USD 1 million, the same amount as for her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, who has also been charged in the case.
The couple, who are to appear in federal court in Boston on March 29, allegedly paid USD 500,000 in bribes to ensure their two daughters were recruited to the University of Southern California rowing team even though the pair did not participate in crew.
Loughlin, 54, surrendered to FBI agents early Wednesday after returning from Vancouver, where she was filming.
Judge Steve Kim told the star in setting her bail that she would still be allowed to travel for work as long as the court was made aware of her plans. The couple were among 50 people indicted on Tuesday in a scam to help children of the American elite gain entry into top US colleges.
“Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who has also been implicated in the scandal, was arrested by FBI agents at her home on Tuesday and later released on bail. The 56-year-old actress and her husband William H Macy, the star of Showtime’s hit series “Shameless,” allegedly paid USD 15,000 for their eldest daughter to perform well on a college entrance exam. Macy was mentioned in the case but has not been charged.
The ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about USD 25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities. Some of the universities targeted in the elaborate cheating scam include Yale, Stanford, UCLA and Georgetown. None of the schools or the students has been charged in the case.
According to prosecutors, the accused parents paid a firm run by Singer as much as USD 6 million to cheat on college entrance exams for their children or to bribe coaches to help non-athletic students get scholarships. Others ensnared in the scandal include Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, who allegedly paid USD 75,000 to have his daughter’s test grades fixed.
Also charged is William McGlashan, an executive at the investment group TPG Capital who specialized in technology investments. He allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure his son got into the University of Southern California as a student athlete. The scandal has lit up social media, with many poking fun and expressing anger at the wealthy parents indicted – notably Loughlin and Huffman – as well as their children.
“CAPTION THIS: ‘It’s ok honey. We’ll get you in a college close to your mom’s prison so you can visit,” one Twitter user said in response to a picture Huffman had posted on Sunday of her daughter sitting on Macy’s lap and hugging him.
Ben Dreyfuss, the son of veteran actor Richard Dreyfuss, quipped: “I got into college the old fashioned way: by letting my father’s celebrity speak for itself.” Another Twitter user said: “So what I’ve learned from #CollegeCheatingScandal is that rich kids are so stupid that they can’t get into colleges without cheating.” Olivia Jade Giannulli, one of Loughlin’s daughters, disabled comments on her Instagram posts on Wednesday after some of her 1.3 million followers lashed out against her.
“Please do a video for how you prepared for the SATs,” read one comment.
Another berated the young woman, who posted a video blog last year in which she said she didn’t care about school, for stealing a college spot from “another deserving student (who probably actually rows!!)…”
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