World

Loughlin out on bail of $1.35m in college cheating scandal

LOS ANGELES: US actress Lori Loughlin appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday in connection with a massive college admissions scam.

Bail for the Full House star was set at US$1 million (S$1.35 million), the same amount as for her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, 55, who has also been charged. They are both out on bail.

The couple allegedly paid US$500,000 in bribes to ensure their two daughters were recruited to the University of Southern California rowing team even though the pair did not participate in crew.

Loughlin, 54, surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents on Wednesday after returning from Vancouver, where she was filming.

She will be allowed to travel for work as long as the court was made aware of her plans.

The couple were among 50 people indicted on Tuesday in a scam to help children of the US elite gain entry into top US colleges.

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman was arrested by FBI agents at home on Tuesday and later released on bail.

The 56-year-old and her husband William H. Macy, the star of hit series Shameless, allegedly paid US$15,000 for their oldest daughter to perform well on an entrance exam. Macy has not been charged.

The ringleader behind the scam, William Rick Singer, 58, who authorities said was paid about US$25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating.

Some of the universities targeted in the elaborate cheating scam include Yale, Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles and Georgetown. None of the schools or the students has been charged in the case.

According to prosecutors, the accused parents paid a company run by Singer as much as US$6 million to cheat on college entrance exams for their children or to bribe coaches to help non-athletic students get scholarships.

Others in the scandal include Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, who allegedly paid US$75,000 to have his daughter's test grades fixed.

Also charged is William McGlashan, an executive at the investment group TPG Capital, who specialised in technology investments. He allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure his son got into the University of Southern California as a student athlete.

The scandal has lit up social media, with many poking fun and expressing anger at the wealthy parents indicted - as well as their children.

"It's okay, honey. We'll get you in a college close to your mum's prison so that you can visit," one Twitter user said in response to a picture Huffman had posted on Sunday of her daughter sitting on Macy's lap and hugging him.

Journalist and actor Ben Dreyfuss, son of veteran actor Richard Dreyfuss, quipped: "I got into college the old-fashioned way: by letting my father's celebrity speak for itself."

Miss Olivia Jade Giannulli, one of Loughlin's daughters, disabled comments on her Instagram posts on Wednesday after some of her 1.3 million followers lashed out against her.

"Please do a video for how you prepared for the SAT (exams)," read one comment. - AFP

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