Actress Lori Loughlin has been taken into custody in connection with an alleged university bribing scheme in the US, the FBI has said.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said Loughlin was taken into custody in Los Angeles this morning and is due to appear in court later today.
The Full House actress, along with Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and dozens of other parents, is accused of being involved in a scheme which saw bribes paid to help get children into some of the most elite universities in the country, including Stanford and Yale.
Prosecutors allege Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 (£378,000) to have their two daughters labelled as recruits to the University Of Southern California (USC) crew team, even though neither is a rower.
Their 19-year-old daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, a social media star with almost 2 million subscribers on YouTube, is now at USC.
Earlier today, the FBI said Loughlin had been expected to hand herself in. Court records show a warrant for her arrest was issued.
Huffman and Gianulli have both appeared in court in LA and told to surrender their passports. Huffman was released on $250,000 (£191,000) bail, while Gianulli’s was set at $1 million (£760,000).
According to court documents, Huffman paid $15,000 (£11,000) disguised as a charitable donation so that her daughter could take part in an entrance-exam cheating scam.
According to the AP news agency, the documents say a co-operating witness met with Huffman and husband Macy at their home in LA.
Macy, who attended his wife’s hearing, has not been charged, but authorities have not said why.
More than 40 people have been charged over the alleged scheme, in which wealthy parents are said to have paid bribes to help get their children into America’s top universities.
Authorities have called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the US Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying out an estimated $25 million (£19 million) in bribes.
No students have been charged, with authorities saying that in many cases the teenagers were unaware of what was going on.
Admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, founder of the Edge College & Career Network of Newport Beach, California, has pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He has been identified as the central figure in the scheme.
His lawyer Donald Heller has said his client intends to cooperate fully with prosecutors and is “remorseful and contrite and wants to move on with his life”.
At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance, fashion, the food and beverage industry and other fields, have been charged.
Prosecutors say parents paid Singer huge amounts, from 2011 until last month, to bribe coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes to boost their chances of getting accepted.
Athletic credentials were falsified with the help of staged photographs of them playing sports, or doctored photos in which their faces were pasted on to the bodies of genuine athletes, authorities said.
Singer is also said to have hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students, and paid off insiders at testing centres to correct students’ answers.
Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and some as much as $6.5 million (£5 million) to guarantee their children’s admission, officials say.
Prosecutor Andrew Lelling described the investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, as highlighting “a catalogue of wealth and privilege”.
courtesy of Sky News