- Full House actress Lori Loughlin was one of the 50 people charged in a nationwide college admissions bribery plot involving some of the country's most elite schools.
- Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly agreed to pay bribes of up to $500,000 in exchange for helping their two daughters get into the University of Southern California.
- For the "Operation Varsity Blues" investigation, the FBI reportedly wiretapped conversations between Loughlin and a "fixer."
- Loughlin is currently in police custody, but will likely not spend time behind bars, says one legal expert.
On Tuesday, a massive college admissions cheating scandal emerged that led to 50 people being indicted. Among the CEOs, Hollywood actors, coaches, and standardized test administrators who are allegedly involved is Full House star Lori Loughlin. The actress is currently in police custody and will appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.
What is Lori Loughlin charged with exactly?
Specifically, Loughlin was reportedly among those charged with conspiracy to commit mail and honest services fraud. According to Fox, court documents noted that "Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters [Olivia Jade, 20, and Isabella Rose, 19] designated as recruits to the USC crew team - despite the fact that they did not participate in crew - thereby facilitating their admission to USC." CNN reports that other accused parents spent somewhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million to guarantee admissions for their children - the alleged ringleader of the scam, William Rick Singer, pulled in roughly $25 million total.
Who is William Rick Singer?
Singer is the CEO of The Key, a company that "helps" wealthy students score better scores on college admission tests, such as the SAT. According to The Key's website, it clientele is "referral-based, organically reaching the world’s most respected families and providing a prestigious foundation for THE KEY to grow its offerings worldwide."
In 2014, Singer wrote two books aiming to help people land acceptance to their dream college.
Previously, he held high positions at The Money Store/First Union Bank and West Union Bank.
Loughlin's bizarre wiretapped phone call.
During its investigation, which has been dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," the FBI allegedly used wiretapping to prove the wealthy parents' involvement. Below is the reported phone call between Loughlin and CW-1, or Cooperating Witness #1, as obtained by Vice. We can't confirm CW-1 is Singer, although he has been working with the FBI since 2018.
Here's a snippet of the conversation between Lori and CW-1:
CW-1: If you ever, ever were to say anything.
Loughlin: So we, so we just - so we just have to say we made a donation to your foundation and that’s it, end of story.
CW-1: That is correct.
CW-1: I just wanted to make sure I touched base because I didn’t want you –
CW-1: to all of a sudden what - like what’s this call coming from.
Loughlin: Okay, yeah. Okay. Totally. All right. So- so that’s it. So it’s- it’s the IRS. It’s not anyone from USC, it’s the IRS.
CW-1: That is correct.
Loughlin: Okay. Very good.
Will Lori Loughlin go to jail?
As legal expert James Leonard Jr. told People, the "federal prosecution brought forth by the Department of Justice carries with it potential life-altering consequences for those involved. The stakes could not be higher."
But, at the end of the day, he says that while it's possible Loughlin will spend some time behind bars (Rolling Stone reports that she could face five years), it's not very likely.
“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.”