Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin appear in court over college admissions scandal

U.S. & World

BOSTON — Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin appeared before a judge in federal court in Boston Wednesday on accusations that they cheated to get their daughters admitted to elite colleges.

Huffman and Loughlin are the most famous among dozens of people charged in a sweeping college admissions scheme that the FBI code-named Operation Varsity Blues.

Huffman, Loughlin and Loughlin’s husband, the designer Mossimo Giannulli, did not enter pleas during separate appearances that each lasted only minutes.

The defendants had previously been instructed to refrain from discussing anything related to the case with anyone other than their attorneys, but the judge said Wednesday that they can now talk about the charges with their families.

Federal Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley said not discussing the cases with family members could be unhealthy.

The judge also said the defendants must inform the court about any future travel and must get permission to leave the United States, which they will be allowed to do only for work.

Loughlin appeared cheerful and friendly both in and outside the court.

The FBI probe exposed a network of wealthy parents who allegedly paid the scheme’s organizer William Rick Singer millions of dollars to boost their children’s chances of getting into elite colleges such as Yale, Georgetown and Stanford.

Singer pleaded guilty this month to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice.

More charges and arrests are expected in the case, a representative from the U.S. attorney’s office told NBC News on Wednesday.

Another indicted parent, Peter Sartorio, a packaged-foods entrepreneur from Menlo Park, California, filed a motion Wednesday stating that he intends to plead guilty and requesting that the court move the date of his initial appearance from Wednesday to April 30. He is accused of paying $15,000 in cash to have someone purport to proctor the ACT for his daughter while in fact correcting her exam answers.

Loughlin, best known for her role in the 1987-95 sitcom “Full House,” and Huffman, who starred in the 2004-12 ABC hit “Desperate Housewives,” were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, a felony offense.

Federal prosecutors allege Huffman paid $15,000 to get one of her daughters unlimited time for her SAT test.

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of agreeing to pay bribes totaling $500,000 to bolster their two daughters’ chances of gaining admission to the University of Southern California.

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