Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin’s College Admissions Scam: Everything We Know

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The aftermath of Operation Variety Blues is far from over.

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among dozens of people named and charged in a college admissions scam on Tuesday, March 12. The American Crime star was accused of paying $15,000 to William Rick Singer’s fake charity to help her eldest daughter, Sofia, cheat on the SATs. According to CNN, Singer traveled from Florida to West Hollywood to administer Sofia’s exam. She reportedly scored 400 points higher the second time.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, meanwhile, allegedly paid bribes to ensure their two daughters would be recruited as a part of the University of Southern California crew team, even though the girls do not participate in crew.

“I wanted to thank you again for your great work with [our daughter], she is very excited and both Lori and I are very appreciative of your efforts and end result!” Giannulli allegedly emailed Singer, per CNN.

As #CollegeCheatingScandal continues to trend, scroll through for everything we know about the scam — so far:

Lori’s Family

The Fuller House star and Giannulli are the parents of two daughters — Bella, 20, and Olivia, 19 — both of whom attend the University of Southern California. While her eldest child is an aspiring actress who has appeared in several of Loughlin’s Hallmark Christmas movies, Olivia has a large social media following and nearly two million subscribers on YouTube. The influencer, who has collaborated with brands including Sephora and Tresemmé, previously came under fire for saying she only went to college for “game days” and “partying.” She apologized in a second YouTube video in August 2018. At the time of her parents’ indictment, Olivia was with friends aboard the private yacht of Rick Caruso, chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, according to TMZ. Olivia also joked in a May 2018 vlog that she “literally never” attended high school.


Loughlin once described her parenting style to Us Weekly, noting that she is “loving” but “firm” when it comes to raising her two daughters. “I am available, and they have access to me. I am involved, but I am not hovering,” she told Us in 2016. “I’m there to guide. I think I’m funny, but they don’t. But I still make that joke. They kind of roll their eyes at me, but I am funny. I’m funny! And they’re like, ‘No, you’re not.’ But anyways, we have fun. We have a good time together.”

Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for Sephora Collection

Felicity’s Family

The Desperate Housewives alum shares daughters Sofia, 18, and Georgia, 16, with husband William H. Macy. A week before his wife’s arrest, the Shameless star discussed the college process during an interview with Us.  


“My daughter, Sofia, the oldest, she’s in the tribe. She’s going to be an actor,” Macy told Us on March 6. “She goes to LACHSA, the arts high school here, and we’re doing the college tour, and she’s looking at theater schools. So yeah, we talk about it a lot.”


Playwright David Mamet, who gave Huffman some of her most notable Hollywood roles, defended the actress in an open letter for The Hollywood Reporter, writing, “That a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment is not only unfortunate, it is, I know we parents would agree, a universal phenomenon.”

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Lori’s Alleged Role

According to court documents obtained by ABC News, Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC.” The couple also reportedly sent photos of their daughters on a rowing machine to Singer, who is at the center of the scandal.

Loughlin and Giannulli were initially charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for their alleged roles in the scam, but an indictment from a federal grand jury in Boston on April 9 added a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Michael Bezjian/WireImage

Felicity’s Alleged Role

Huffman allegedly “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 … to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,” per court documents. The paperwork also claimed that the actress “later made arrangements to pursue the scheme for a second time” for her younger daughter, Georgia, but opted “not to do so.” 

Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for Backstage Creations

The Arrests

Huffman was arrested at gunpoint by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents at her Los Angeles home on Tuesday morning. She was subsequently released on a $250,000 bond. While Giannulli was also arrested for his alleged role on Tuesday, Loughlin was “out of the country” when the warrant for her arrest was initially issued. The following day, the Hallmark star was taken into custody and subsequently released on a $1 million bond. A courtroom sketch shows Loughlin facing a judge with a stern expression and her arms crossed.


The Additional Defendants

Following a year-long FBI investigation, a total of 50 people were charged in the case, including 33 parents, nine NCAA coaches, two SAT/ACT administrators and one college administrator, according to CNN. Additionally, Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director at USC, has been fired following the scandal. “We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university,” USC said in statement to CNN. 

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

USC’s Statement

After sending an email to students about the scandal, the official USC Twitter account shared a statement from the university. “We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC. USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation,” the statement reads in part. 


Other colleges named in connection to the scandal include Yale University, Stanford University and Georgetown University.

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Aftermath

Both Loughlin and Huffman have faced a lot of backlash on social media in light of the scandal. While the former 90210 star deleted both her Twitter and Instagram on Tuesday, Huffman appeared to remove a post about motherhood struggles on her social media platforms and disabled her comments feature. Her Instagram account was later was taken offline altogether, and her What the Flicka? website, online store and YouTube channel have also been deactivated.


Days after the scandal broke, Loughlin was fired from the Hallmark channel. “We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” the network said in a statement. “We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including Garage Sale Mysteries, an independent third party production.”


The actress told Us Weekly in February 2018 that she had a “real family” on the set of the drama When Calls the Heart, which Hallmark said would not be canceled in the wake of the scandal.


Olivia, meanwhile, was subsequently dropped by several brands, including Sephora.

Alison Buck/Getty Images for Backstage Creations; Greg Doherty/WireImage

Olivia and Bella’s Future

USC Media Relations told Us Weekly in a statement on March 13 that the students whose parents were allegedly involved in the scam, including Bella and Olivia, will be reviewed: “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. 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.”


Current prospective students “who are connected to the scheme,” meanwhile, “will be denied admission to USC,” per the statement.


In the days following the news, multiple reports surfaced that Bella and Olivia have opted not to return to USC over fears of being bullied. Additional details about Loughlin’s daughters’ alleged application process have also emerged, including court docs which claim Olivia did not even fill out her own application. 


“[Our younger daughter] has not submitted all her colleges [sic] apps and is confused on how to do so,” Loughlin allegedly emailed William “Rick” Singer, according to an affidavit. “I want to make sure she gets those in as I don’t want to call any attention to [her] with her little friend at [her high school]. Can you tell us how to proceed?”


Singer “responded by directing an employee to submit the applications” on Olivia’s behalf, the affidavit claims.  

Phillip Faraone/WireImage

Felicity and William’s Marriage

More than a week after the scandal broke, a source told Us exclusively that Huffman and Macy, who have been married for more than 20 years, “have been arguing.” Their “biggest concern is Felicity’s criminal case and how this is impacting their daughter,” the source said, noting that Sofia “had no knowledge of the actions taken in regards to the improvement in her SAT test score.”


A second insider told Us that the Wild Hogs actor is “heartbroken” over the scandal. “He’s been in tears,” the second insider said. A third source noted that Huffman is also “crushed.”

Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

Prison Time?

Both Huffman and Loughlin, who have been accused of mail fraud, appeared in court in Boston on April 3. According to an insider, the women “haven’t fully grasped the extent of their alleged crimes or the possibility of prison time.”

Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage/Getty Images; Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Admitting Guilt

The Desperate Housewives alum, along with 13 other parents and a university coach, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud on April 8, 2019, after allegedly paying $15,000 to give her eldest daughter, Sofia Macy, extra time on her SAT exams. Huffman, who was arrested at gunpoint on March 12, gave a statement to the court at the time of her plea: “I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office. I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.”



Huffman also stated that her daughter had no knowledge of her actions, saying, “In my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”

Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Scared Silent?

Unlike Huffman, the former Full House star and her husband were not among the 14 parents and university coach to plead guilty to charges of fraud on April 8, 2019. A source told Us Weekly exclusively that Loughlin “is in denial and doesn’t believe she should have to spend any time in prison. She’ll go to trial before being separated from her family, and take those odds rather than just go to prison as part of a deal.”

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

More Trouble

In addition to their previous indictments, Loughlin and Giannulli were charged with money laundering conspiracy on Tuesday, April 9. According to a press release from the Massachusetts State Attorney’s Office, the couple and 14 other parents got hit with the same charge.

Donato Sardella/WireImage

No Deal

Hours prior to being charged with money laundering conspiracy, the Summerland alum rejected a plea deal that included a minimum two-year prison sentence, a source confirmed to Us.


Taking a Stance

According to court documents obtained by Us, Loughlin and Giannulli both pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them in the college admissions scandal on Monday, April 15. The couple also requested to waive their right to appear in court again to enter pleas for wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges they were hit with on April 9. Loughlin and Giannulli were previously charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud when they were arrested in March.

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