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May 26, 2019

Lori Loughlin released on $1 million bond in college bribery scandal

March 14, 2019
In this Oct. 4, 2017 file photo, actress Lori Loughlin arrives at the 5th annual People Magazine “Ones To Watch” party in Los Angeles. (Richard Shotwell / Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

She was a day late — but not a dollar short.

Actress Lori Loughlin was released on a $1 million bond in Los Angeles late Wednesday, just hours after her morning arrest in what prosecutors have called the largest college admissions bribery scandal in U.S. history.

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The “Full House” star wore a white turtleneck and glasses for her courtroom cameo that came one day after her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli and fellow actress Felicity Huffman were arrested and hauled in for similar bond hearings in the same federal courthouse.

Loughlin sat against the back wall of the enclosed defendant box and stared straight ahead while waiting for her case to be called Wednesday afternoon.

When it was her turn, the judge asked if Loughlin heard and understood the felony charges filed against her.

“Yes I did,” the actress who’s now a prominent face of the feel-good Hallmark Channel replied calmly and clearly.

U.S. District Court Judge Steve Kim granted the bond and said Loughlin, 54, had until March 29 to back it up with the deed to her primary residence.

Giannulli got the same $1 million bond backed by their house a day earlier.

Loughlin’s lawyer Marc Harris told the court the actress was working on a project in Vancouver early Tuesday when federal agents showed up to arrest her in Los Angeles alongside Giannulli.

Harris said she immediately booked a flight back and voluntarily surrendered.

While Giannulli is not permitted to leave the continental U.S. without special court permission, Judge Kim agreed Wednesday to let Loughlin keep her passport and travel back and forth to British Columbia for already-booked acting jobs stretching into November.

Loughlin was in the Vancouver area working on the TV movie “Garage Sale Mystery: Three Little Murders” for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel when the charges against her were announced.

After she finishes her current project, she has two more gigs in April and May and a series that starts shooting in July, Harris said.

“When is the outer limit by which the projects will end?” Kim asked after previously stating he was “not comfortable” giving Loughlin her passport without restrictions.

“She believes her slated projects will continue through at least November,” Harris said.

The judge said Loughlin could retain her passport for work trips but would have to surrender it in December.

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Loughlin also is prohibited from speaking with any victims or witnesses in the case, the judge said.

“Do we need to exclude the daughters?” Kim asked, referring to the two sisters prosecutors claim were fraudulently admitted to USC as elite athletes after their parents paid a total of $500,000 in bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Wyman said he would have “no problem” excluding the daughters.

Kim told Loughlin the no-contact order “does not apply to your daughters.”

Loughlin was taken into custody by FBI agents shortly before 9 a.m. local time Wednesday, an FBI spokeswoman confirmed.

She was allowed to quietly surrender the morning after arriving back in Los Angeles late Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors in Boston allege Loughlin and Giannulli paid the $500,000 in a series of payments to sidestep the rigorous admissions process at USC and fraudulently designate their daughters special recruits to the school’s crew team — despite the fact the girls had no competitive rowing experience.

She and Giannulli were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in a flurry of indictments out of Boston that also snared Huffman.

While Loughlin was on her way back to Los Angeles, her daughter, Olivia Jade, was celebrating spring break on the yacht of Rick Caruso, the chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, he confirmed to TMZ.

Overall, the Justice Department unsealed indictments for 33 parents, 13 coaches and the ringleaders and underlings of the pay-to-play scheme offering SAT score-fixing and side-door university admissions through fraudulent athletic recruitment.

The U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts said alleged mastermind William (Rick) Singer worked with wealthy parents including Huffman and her actor husband William H. Macy to bribe their way through the difficult college admissions process and gain unearned access to top schools such as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, USC and Wake Forest.

Macy was not charged in the case.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and Giannulli took advantage of Singer’s athletic recruitment contacts at USC to buy spots for their two daughters. Court documents lay out the alleged deal in detail.

On April 22, 2016, Giannulli purportedly sent an email to a cooperating witness in the case — thought to be Singer — that said he wanted help getting his oldest daughter into a college “other than ASU,” a reference to Arizona State University.

“If you want (U)SC, I have the game plan ready to go into motion,” the witness replied, according to filings reviewed by The News.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and Giannulli ultimately agreed to use bribes to facilitate the daughter’s admission as a recruited crew coxswain, “even though she did not row competitively or otherwise participate in crew.”

On Sept. 7, 2016, Giannulli sent an email to the witness that included a staged photo of his older daughter on an ergometer, or rowing machine, prosecutors allege.

About two months later on Nov. 1, Giannulli allegedly sent an email agreeing to pay $50,000 to Donna Heinel, the senior women’s associate athletic director at USC who was also charged in the case Tuesday.

By Nov. 28, 2016, Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughter was provisionally accepted to USC. After she received her formal acceptance letter on March 23, 2017, Giannulli wired $200,000 to Singer’s sham charity, The Key Worldwide Foundation.

“I wanted to thank you again for your great work with (our older daughter), she is very excited and both Lori and I are very appreciative of your efforts and end result,” Giannulli allegedly wrote in a thank you email obtained by the FBI.

When the witness replied that he would be happy to repeat the process with the couple’s younger daughter, Giannulli again gave the green light, authorities allege.

The cooperating witness emailed Giannulli on July 16, 2017 saying they would claim the second daughter was a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team, the paperwork states.

The witness asked Giannulli to send an “action picture” of the younger daughter. Four days later, Giannulli sent another email specifically requesting a photo on a rowing machine.

On July 28, 2017, Giannulli sent an email to the witness and Loughlin that included a photo of the younger daughter on an ergometer.

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When the younger daughter was granted her provisional acceptance, Loughlin allegedly emailed that it was “wonderful news.”

“Please continue to keep this hush hush till March,” the witness replied.

“Yes of course,” Loughlin responded, according to the court filings.

Giannulli later cut another $50,000 check to Heinel and paid another $200,000 to Singer’s fake foundation, prosecutors say.

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