Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are dealing with college cheating scandal in different ways

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Actress Lori Loughlin and 15 other wealthy parents now face an additional charge of money laundering as part of the growing college admissions scandal. CNN's Brynn Gingras reports.

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 12:00 AM
Updated: Apr 11, 2019 12:00 AM

Of the 50 people caught up in the largest college admissions cheating scheme ever prosecuted in the United States, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin have become the faces of the scandal, with many wondering whether they will end up behind bars.

Huffman and Loughlin are among 33 parents accused of using their wealth to cheat on standardized tests for their children, and bribe college administrators and coaches who had major clout when it came to admissions.

The investigation took a crucial turn Monday when Huffman and a dozen other parents and one coach agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud and other forms of bribery, highlighting the separate actions both women have taken since the scandal broke.

Here are the different ways the actresses have dealt with the fallout:

Felicity Huffman

What is she accused of?

Huffman has agreed to plead guilty to paying $15,000 to a fake charity associated with Rick Singer to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs. Singer ran a college prep business, and helped wealthy parents cheat on standardized tests for their children. He also bribed college coaches to designate children falsely as recruited athletes, smoothing their path to admission, a criminal complaint says.

Huffman and Singer exchanged emails about how to get extra time on her daughter's SAT, the complaint says. They arranged for Huffman's daughter to take the SAT at a location controlled by an administrator bribed by Singer, the complaint says. The daughter got a score of 1420 out of a maximum 1600 on the SAT, about 400 points over her Preliminary SAT exam a year earlier.

Does she plan to plead guilty?

Yes.

As a result, federal prosecutors will recommend incarceration at the "low end" of the sentencing range, a $20,000 fine and 12 months of supervised release, according to a plea agreement. Prosecutors recommended a range of sentences for those pleading guilty, from 12 to 18 months. A federal judge will have the final say on the outcome for Huffman and the other defendants.

In addition to lower sentencing, prosecutors will not bring further charges, the plea agreement says.

What has she said about the alleged scandal?

She issued an apology and took responsibility for her actions, saying her daughter was not aware of the payment. She said she had betrayed her daughter and wouldn't make any excuses for breaking the law.

"I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done ... and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions," she said in a statement.

"I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly."

How much prison time is she facing?

It's unclear whether a guilty plea will mean no time in prison. Prosecutors have said they will be asking for jail time for all defendants, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. The defendants are facing anywhere between six to 21 months in prison if convicted or if they plead guilty, but the exact sentence will depend on several factors, the official added.

Has the fallout affected her acting career?

A Netflix comedy film starring Huffman won't be hitting the streaming platform on April 26, its previously scheduled release date.

"Otherhood" is about three mothers who move from the suburbs to New York so they can reconnect with their children. While it is not uncommon for film release dates to shift, news of the film's pushback came a day after the "Desperate Housewives" and "American Crime" actress entered her plea in the college admissions scam.

Lori Loughlin

What is she accused of?

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to a fake charity to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits. Their daughters did not participate in the sport.

Does she plan to plead guilty?

The couple appeared last week in federal court in Boston, but they have not publicly indicated how they plan to plead.

Loughlin and 15 other parents now face an additional charge of money laundering in addition to last month's charges of conspiracy to commit fraud. They were charged Tuesday in a superseding indictment with conspiring to launder bribes and other payments through Singer's charity, prosecutors said.

The added charges came a day after Huffman and others agreed to plead guilty in the case.

Loughlin's attorneys did not engage in substantial plea discussions, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation. It's not too late, however, for those negotiations to still take place, the source said. CNN has reached out to Loughlin's counsel for comment.

What has she said about the alleged scandal?

Not much. Late last month, the actress was caught on video by paparazzi in Los Angeles and said she was sorry, but she couldn't talk about her legal issues.

"You can follow me around all day if you want, but I just can't comment right now," Loughlin said. "But thank you for your time."

How much prison time is she facing?

The charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud are punishable by a maximum 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to federal officials.

Has the fallout affected her acting career?

The "Full House" actress was dropped by the Hallmark Channel and other brands in the wake of last month's charges. Sephora also ended a makeup partnership with her daughter, the social media influencer Olivia Jade, who was a student at USC.

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