Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Full House alum Lori Loughlin have been indicted in connection with a college admissions cheating scandal.
The actresses and 48 other high-profile individuals were criminally charged Tuesday for allegedly participating in a nationwide conspiracy to get students admitted to top colleges including Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, USC, the University of Texas, Wake Forest, and Yale, according to a federal indictment.
FBI agents took Huffman into custody at her home in Los Angeles Tuesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Times. A warrant was issued for Loughlin, who was said to be out of town.
Court documents allege that Huffman and Loughlin paid a college counseling agency called Edge College & Career Network also known as “The Key,” to help their daughters gain admission to elite universities.
Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, allegedly paid the California-based agency — run by businessman William Rick Singer — a “charitable contribution of $15,000 … to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,” court documents state. The sum allegedly afforded the actress’ daughter, Sofia, unlimited time to take the SAT, and she was supposedly given a private proctor who allegedly corrected her answers after the test.
Sofia’s SAT score was 400 points higher than her PSAT exam, according to legal docs. Huffman was allegedly recorded in a phone conversation expressing concern about the testing scheme, stating, according to court docs: “But I just didn’t know if it’d be odd for [the tutor] if we go, ‘Oh, she did this in– in March 9th, but she did so much better in May.’ I don’t know if that’d be like– if [the tutor] would be like ‘Wow.’”
The 56-year-old actress also made note of the charity Singer set up to allegedly launder his company’s money, stating in a recorded phone conversation: “So we– so we just– so we just have to say we made a donation to your foundation and that’s it, end of story.”
Huffman had allegedly planned to engage in the same scheme with her younger daughter but ultimately decided not to do so. Macy wasn’t indicted Tuesday, but the Desperate Housewives star and award-winning actress has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Later Tuesday she posted $250,000 bond and was released.
Loughlin was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in the investigation called “Operation Varsity Blues.”
The Full House alum and her husband — Mossimo fashion house founder Mossimo Giannulli — allegedly paid $500,000 to Singer’s company to ensure that their daughters, Isabella and Olivia, were recruited to the University of Southern California’s (USC) crew team even though they didn’t participate in the sport.
Loughlin allegedly told a “cooperating witness that she would arrange for her daughter to be photographed on a rowing machine to bolster the false claim on the application to USC that her daughter was the crew coxswain for the L.A. Marine Club team,” according to NBC News.
Loughlin and Giannulli were both indicted Tuesday.
Following the indictments, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a Tuesday news conference in Boston, according to ABC News: “These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege. They include, for example, CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer, and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”
He added: “There will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy. And there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.”
Both Loughlin and Huffman have yet to address the scandal publicly.