UPDATED, 3:30 PM: Lori Loughlin was arraigned Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles on conspiracy charges stemming from the elite college entrance fraud scheme made public the day before by federal investigators.
Arrested earlier in the day, the Fuller House actor was granted a $1 million bond and had to surrender her passport with travel restrictions in the short hearing this afternoon.
Appearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim at around 3 PM today, Loughlin received the same bail amount as her husband Mossimo Giannulli, who was arraigned Tuesday. Unlike Giannulli and after some trepidation by Judge Kim, the actor isn’t restricted to just travel within the continental U.S. Discussed yesterday when Giannulli was before a different judge, the Hallmark Channel regular will also be allowed to travel to Canada for work already scheduled for next month, May and July.
Also, in a move somewhat rare in cases like this, Judge Kim allowed Loughlin to be able to discuss the case with Giannulli as well as her daughters, both of whom are involved in the scandal.
In terms of discussion in the DTLA courtroom Wednesday, with her lawyer by her side, Loughlin kept her conversation to “Yes” when asked by the judge several questions related to her understanding of the charges she faces – charges that could see the actor imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty of the conspiracy allegations.
Set to be allowed to return to her L.A. home this evening after signing an affidavit and some other paperwork, Loughlin’s next court appearance was set for March 29 in Boston. That preliminary hearing in the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, will likely see the actor known as Aunt Becky to millions enter a plea.
Netflix has yet to comment on the Fuller House actor’s situation, but Hallmark Channel’s owners had a little bit to say today of where things standing with one of the scandal embroiled star. “Crown Media Family Networks is aware of the situation and monitoring developments as they arise, the parent company noted in a clearly very short statement.
And arise they clearly will.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:08 AM: Lori Loughlin has surrendered to law enforcement for her alleged role in the multimillion-dollar elite college bribery scheme that came to light Tuesday. The Fuller House star will appear in federal court in downtown L.A. this afternoon.
Loughlin was filming the Hallmark Channel movie series Garage Sale Mysteries in Vancouver yesterday when initial arrests were made by the FBI as part of the nationwide conspiracy case. She flew back into LAX just as her husband Mossimo Giannulli was making his own appearance in arraignment court.
Taken into FBI custody this morning for booking downtown, the Aunt Becky of Full House and now Fuller House fame is expected to stand before a federal magistrate judge at around 2 PM PT, I’ve learned. Loughlin is represented by Perry Viscounty of Latham & Watkins.
As part of a year-long investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, the UTA-repped Loughlin and Giannulli were snared after being caught paying “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,” according to the 200-page indictment.
Along with American Crime star Felicity Huffman and STX Entertainment and Evolution Media co-founder Bill McGlashan, Loughlin and Giannulli were named among a group of 33 parents who paid millions in bribes to coaches at top schools like UCLA, USC, Yale, Georgetown and Stanford, so their children could gain admission as recruited athletes even if they weren’t actually athletes.
Similar to Huffman, McGlashan and Giannulli, Loughlin is being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, according to the unsealed indictment. Like her fashion designer spouse, Huffman and a dozen other Los Angeles locals rounded up Tuesday, she will not enter a plea today but will be expected to post a bail bond.
Loughlin will also be given a primary hearing date to next appear in federal court in Boston, where the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts is running point on the big-bucks white-collar crime case that has snared 50 people and numerous colleges and universities.
At his quick hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alexander F. MacKinnon yesterday, a noticeably fatigued Giannulli put up a $1 million bail bond and had his passport taken away. With his travel restricted to the continental U.S., he was told to show up in Boston on March 29 for his next hearing.
At the time, Giannulli’s lawyer Marc Harris sought to bring up the matter of the absent Loughlin, looking to ensure more flexible conditions so Loughlin could continue to work in Canada, MacKinnon said that sounded OK to him but the final call would be made “by another magistrate.” As well as Loughlin’s bail bond sum, the decision on her travel restrictions will be decided at today’s hearing.
Huffman paid a bond of $250,000 yesterday and also surrendered her passport.
As well as her frequent Hallmark gigs, Loughlin seemed set to appear in her well-known role of Rebecca Katsopoli in the upcoming fifth and final season of Netflix’s Fuller House when it launches on the streamer later this year. Neither Netflix nor Loughlin’s agency UTA had any comment on the actor’s indictment and now arrest.
This whole case actually came to light because the feds were tipped off in the pursuit of another case. In pursuing the lead, the government uncovered a long-time $25 million scam run by the William Singer-topped Key Worldwide Foundation, a purported nonprofit in Newport Beach, CA. Singer on Tuesday pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction of justice.
The money, collected by the nonprofit as “donations” from parents, allegedly funded illegal activity including hiring other individuals to write admission exams for potential students, paying officials to alter test scores, and bribing coaches so their children could gain admission as recruited athletes even if they had never ever played the sport. Several coaches from top schools entered guilty pleas Tuesday, including high-profile coaches at USC, UCLA and Georgetown.
Among those charged in the March 6 indictment, Loughlin could be sentenced to at up to five years in jail if found guilty. Having said that, the hard fact of justice in America is it will be very unlikely the wealthy actor will see any actual time behind bars if a plea deal is struck or sentencing is favored heavily towards probation, community service, and a fine.