Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin arrived at Boston federal court on Wednesday to face charges tied to the largest college admissions scam uncovered in US history.
The actors and 11 other wealthy parents are accused of engaging in schemes that involved cheating on college exams and paying $25m in bribes to buy their children spots at well-known universities.
Prosecutors have been holding plea talks with some 33 parents charged in the scheme.
On Wednesday, packaged food entrepreneur Peter Sartorio became the first to reveal he plans to plead guilty.
Two others, California businessman Devin Sloane and marketing executive Jane Buckingham, were excused from attending Wednesday’s proceedings after disclosing they were in talks with prosecutors as well.
Prosecutors say the scheme was overseen by California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, who has admitted to facilitating the cheating scam and bribing coaches at schools like Yale University and University of Southern California (USC) to present the parents’ children as fake athletic recruits.
“Desperate Housewives” star Huffman and “Full House” actor Loughlin are part of the group scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge. Loughlin walked into the courthouse past a group fans yelling, “Lori, we love you.”
Prosecutors allege that Loughlin and her husband, Los Angeles fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters named as recruits to USC’s crew team, even though they did not row competitively.
Huffman, who is married to the actor William H. Macy, is accused of making a $15,000 contribution to Singer’s foundation in exchange for having an associate of Singer’s in 2017 secretly correct her daughter’s answers on an SAT college entrance exam at a test center prosecutors say Singer “controlled.”
Huffman later made arrangements to engage in the scheme again on her younger daughter’s behalf before deciding not to, prosecutors said.
Other accused parents expected to appear in court include Manuel Henriquez, the former chief executive of specialty finance company Hercules Capital Inc, and Gordon Caplan, the former co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Henriquez resigned his position and Caplan was placed on leave after they were charged.
Prosecutors have not yet charged any applicants and said that in some cases the parents charged took steps to try to prevent their children from realizing they were benefiting from fraud.