Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman: Faces of college admissions scandal
After news of the scam broke, the two actresses became the face of the scandal — but Huffman pleaded guilty, while Loughlin and her husband have fought the charges.
In a few days, Huffman completes her two-week prison sentence. Prosecutors announced Tuesday that Loughlin was among several parents facing new bribery charges in the case.
Here’s how their paths have diverged.
Different forms of alleged cheating
The actresses were involved in different aspects of the alleged scheme run by mastermind Rick Singer, who facilitated cheating on standardized tests and bribed college coaches to give students an advantage in the admissions process. Singer pleaded guilty to four federal charges and is cooperating with prosecutors.
Huffman and Singer exchanged emails about how to get extra time on her daughter’s SAT exam and ultimately arranged for a proctor to boost the scores after her daughter took the test, a criminal complaint says.
Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly agreed to pay bribes for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team.
Their daughters, Isabella and Olivia, were recruited as coxswains at USC, though they did not row competitively or otherwise participate in crew, according to their criminal complaint. The parents even sent Singer photos of each daughter on an ergometer, the rowing machine, the complaint says.
Loughlin allegedly paid more
The parents accused of conspiring with Singer paid amounts ranging from $15,000 to up to $500,000, authorities said.
The “Fuller House” actress was among those who paid higher-range amounts to help their children. Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 to Singer to have their daughters pose as USC athletes.
Huffmann paid the lesser amount of $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT test.
Huffman quickly pleaded guilty
The “Desperate Housewives” star pleaded guilty in a Boston court in May, just weeks after her initial arrest.
In exchange for her plea, federal prosecutors recommended incarceration at the “low end” of the sentencing range and said will they would not bring further charges.
Huffman ended up being sentenced to 14 days in prison in September. During her sentencing hearing, Huffman said she was “deeply ashamed” of her actions.
In contrast, Loughlin and her husband have pleaded not guilty — and the charges continue piling up.
The couple was initially charged with conspiracy fraud in March before they were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering weeks later.
Loughlin and Giannulli have both pleaded not guilty to those charges. Each of the charges is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The couple and 9 other parents who previously pleaded not guilty in the scam were charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, prosecutors said.
They now face a maximum of up to 45 years in prison for the charges.
Loughlin’s future remains unclear
Huffman is the first of more than 30 parents charged in the case to serve a prison sentence.
Last week, Huffman reported to federal prison in Dublin, California, to begin serving her two-week sentence. After she is released on Sunday, the actress will remain on supervised release for a year and serve 250 hours of community service.
She is expected to be released from the federal correctional institution in Dublin, a “low security” prison in Alameda County, on Sunday.
Loughlin awaits her trial for the charges she has already pleaded guilty and her attorneys are expected to attend a court status conference in January. It’s unclear when she will enter a plea on her latest accusations.
Correction: This story has been updated with Felicity Huffman’s correct plea from May as well as the correct spelling of “Desperate Housewives.”
CNN’s Eric Levenson and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.