A Guide To The Celebrity College Scandal That Is Almost Too Wild To Be True

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
In a movie that writes itself, actresses Felicity Huffman and Full House's Lori Loughlin are among 33 parents (totaling to a staggering 50 people in six states) who have been charged with allegedly paying bribes to have their children accepted into college. Huffman and Loughlin specifically have both been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
This larger scandal, which the FBI apparently refers to as "Varsity Blues," spans across many high-powered parents as well as 9 coaches and 3 college exam proctors who used bribes and loopholes to get children into colleges. This included everything from doctoring SAT scores to faking children's involvement in sports (like, literally faking, with Photoshop) in order to have them admitted as recruits. (According to the New York Times, a fashion designer, "top" lawyer, and various prominent business people, like William McGlashan, have also been accused of racketeering.)
Advertisement
It's a lot to parse through, so we made a quick guide to how each actress is involved.

Lori Loughlin

Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli have been accused of paying $500,000 to USC to have their daughters admitted as recruits to the college's crew team despite the fact that the two young women did not participate in crew.
"The federal government has alleged that USC is a victim in a scheme perpetrated against the university by a long-time athletics department employee, one current coach and three former coaching staff, who were allegedly involved in a college admissions scheme and have been charged by the government on multiple charges," USC President Wanda M. Austin said in a statement shared with Refinery29. "At this time, we have no reason to believe that Admissions employees or senior administrators were aware of the scheme or took part in any wrongdoing—and we believe the government concurs in that assessment."
Daughters Isabella and Olivia Giannulli, 20 and 19-years old respectively, are both active Instagram influencers. Olivia also is a YouTuber who has once before come under fire for her flippant comments about higher education.
Loughlin, who has deleted her social media, was reportedly taken into custody on Wednesday morning.

Felicity Huffman

As for Huffman, she and her spouse (William H. Macy, who is not named in the documents obtained by THR) reportedly spent $15,000 disguised as a "charitable payment" to a witness who helped unfairly facilitate improved SAT scores.
A witness reportedly met with Huffman and said he could have a proctor correct her daughter's SAT scores. This, plus the promise of extra time on the test and it being taken off school premises, may have been what ultimately bumped her up 400 points to 1420, according to her December 2017 test. According to a taped conversation, Huffman considering doing this again for her youngest daughter, but ultimately did not.
Advertisement
While both of Huffman's daughters have social media, Refinery29 has chosen not to include them due to the fact that the children are not normally in the public eye and reportedly were not aware of their parents' actions.
Per TMZ, seven FBI agents arrived early Tuesday morning to Huffman's Hollywood Hills home with guns drawn so that the actress could surrender. She was released on $250,000 bail Tuesday morning.
Representatives for the two parents did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
Advertisement

More from News

R29 Original Series