Will Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin Go to Prison for Their College Admissions Cheating Scandal?

More than 50 people have been charged in a cheating and bribery scheme. Among those indicted were celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Both allegedly took part in a college admissions scam in order to guarantee acceptance into the schools for their children.

As word continues to spread people are realizing these two actresses may be found guilty. According to US Weekly, both were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. What do these charges mean and are Huffman and Loughlin facing prison time if found guilty?

Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli have both been indicted

It’s strange to think about a member of the Tanner household being charged with a felony, but it’s true. Lori Loughlin, best known for her role on Full House and Netflix’s Fuller House, has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. 

Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was also indicted on the same charges. He is well-known for the Mossimo brand founded in 1986 and sold at Target store around the country. 

The couple allegedly took part in the bribery and cheating in order to get their daughters into college. NBC News reports, “Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 to bolster their two daughters’ chances of gaining admission to the University of Southern California”.

The couple is not the only ones taking heat for the scandal. Their daughters are being harassed on social media, even though they have not been charged with any crimes.

Felicity Huffman’s husband has not been charged

Felicity Huffman may be best known for her roles on Desperate Housewives and the movie Transamerica. While she stood up in front of the judge answering questions, her husband, William H. Macy, sat and watched. Although court documents state that her “Spouse” was involved, Macy has not yet been charged in connection to the scandal.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Huffman was released on $250,000 bail and is expected to appear in a Boston courtroom on March 29. It is not clear if Macy will be charged in the future or whether he will also be in Boston. 

The couple is accused of making a $15,000 bribe in the form of a donation to help their oldest daughter get a higher score on college entrance exams. 

They could go to prison if guilty

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston and the FBI have charged Huffman and Laughlin with at least one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. Let’s break these charges down to better understand the trouble they face if convicted.

When a person commits mail fraud it means that they have: 

  • Purposefully created a plan to defraud a person or an institution
  • Displayed an intent to commit fraud against a person or an institution
  • Mailed something, using the United States Postal Service, USPS with the purpose of carrying out a fraudulent act

Mail fraud is a felony. Each count could have stiff penalties. If found guilty Huffman and Laughlin face up to 5 years in prison and fines as high as $250,000 for each count.  

Understanding “honest services fraud”

Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin
Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin | LISA O’CONNOR,TOMMASO BODDI/AFP/Getty Images

If a person is charged with Honest services fraud, it means that they have deprived another individual the intangible right to honest services. Basically, it means that while many people work very hard in school, sports, and community services in order to be accepted into topped ranked schools, others might try to buy or cheat their way in. 

In this case, Huffman and Laughlin allegedly chose to bribe, cheat, and lie to get their children a spot at these colleges. That caused other, more deserving students to lose that opportuning.