Could Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Go to Jail Over the College Admissions Scandal?
They're facing felony charges.
Operation Varsity Blues is coming to a head. Actor Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, along with Felicity Huffman, were served and appeared in federal court today. Both Loughlin and Huffman are facing "conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud," according to the AV Club, which could come with jail time. However, legal experts are weighing in, saying that although the Hollywood stars are involved with the suspicious activity, they're not in as much trouble as the man behind the entire scheme.
James J. Leonard Jr., a legal expert based in Atlantic City, told People that Loughlin and Huffman probably won't face any jail time. William Singer, the apparent ringleader, is cooperating with authorities and is expected to face harsher punishment. Leonard says that the celebrities were simply trying to help their children, only they went a little too far and crossed a line in the process. Huffman and Loughlin (who are among 50 people named) have not made any official statements, but a slew of involved parties have made it clear that there will be consequences. Some schools have already fired individuals involved, including USC and Stanford University.
"This is a federal prosecution brought forth by the Department of Justice that carries with it potential life-altering consequences for those involved. The stakes could not be higher," he said. "A custodial term is always a possibility when you are charged with felonies. The question to ask is if it's a probability, and in this case, I don't see it as a probability with respect to the parents involved."
While Huffman and Loughlin probably won't be serving, CNN adds that many of the parties involved will be facing legal trouble.
Singer, the owner and operator of Edge College and Career Network LLC, aka The Key, has pleaded guilty to four charges, including Racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. He can face up to 65 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1.25 million dollar fine.
The College Board, the non-profit that handles the SAT, also issued a statement, saying that it would be investigating further and taking action as needed.
“Today’s arrests resulting from an investigation conducted by the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts send a clear message that those who facilitate cheating on the SAT — regardless of their income or status — will be held accountable," Jerome White, the board's director of media relations and external communications, told CNN.
USC, one of the schools involved, also issued a statement and took immediate action, firing Donna Heinel, the school's senior associate athletic director, and water polo coach Jovan Vavic. They were both charged in connection with the scandal.
"We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC," reads a statement from the university. "USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation. We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university. USC is conducting an internal investigation. Donna Heinel and Jovan Vavic have been terminated and the university will take additional employment actions as appropriate. USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward."