Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman appeared in court on Wednesday, April 3 as a result of their involvement in the recent college admissions scandal, which facilitated parents paying to improve their children's college entrance exam scores and getting students admitted to elite universities by claiming they were athletic recruits.
In court, the judge told the 13 defendants assembled that they face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, three years probation and a $250,000 fine, according to Us Weekly. The defendants, which also included Loughlin's husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were all charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.
During the hearing, the parents were asked if they understood the charges they are facing, signed paperwork related to their bails — both Loughlin and Huffman were arrested and released on bond after the scandal was revealed — turned over the passports and agreed to conditions regarding their discussion of the case with family members.
Sources told Deadline that the likelihood of prison time seems to be increasing for the two women, with prosecutors "mindful of the intense spotlight that the case is under" and "determined" to see the stars behind bars. Speculation among law enforcement indicates that Loughlin and Huffman may end up serving around six months to just under two years, with their official sentence, probation and fines possibly dependant on how cooperative they are with the investigation.
Loughlin and Giannulli were indicted for 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."
Meanwhile, Huffman reportedly "made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 to KWF to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter," and while she allegedly considered the plan again for her younger daughter, she did not go through with it a second time.
Loughlin and Huffman were two of 33 parents indicted in the scandal, which indicted a total of 50 people. On Wednesday, Peter Jan Sartorio became the first parent to plead guilty, with two others, Jane Buckingham and Devin Sloane, also reportedly considering plea deals, CBS Boston reports. Sartorio is accused of paying $15,000 to have his daughter's ACT scores corrected, Buckingham allegedly paid $35,000 to increase her son's ACT scores and Sloane reportedly paid $250,000 to have his son accepted into USC as a water polo recruit.
The parents' money went to a fake charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation, set up by William Rick Singer that acted as a front for the scam. Singer and former Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith have already pleaded guilty. The case, dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," is the biggest college admissions scheme ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department.
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