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Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin face court amid settlement pressure in admissions scandal

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 3/22/2019 By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy are posing for a picture: Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy arrive at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. © Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy arrive at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018.

The next move in the college admissions scandal will unfold in a Boston federal courtroom April 3, when Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and other defendants are set to appear in court.

Federal prosecutors announced that the actresses as well as Loughlin's husband, fashion designer J. Mossimo Giannulli, will be in court.

The hearing comes as the federal investigation is continuing, and there are signs that more charges might be coming. Law enforcement sources say some parents are under pressure to cooperate with federal prosecutors, who are looking to expand the case. One source said some parents are being given a short window to consider a deal or potentially face additional charges.

The actresses are among dozens swept up in the scandal. The scheme centered on the owner of a for-profit Newport Beach college admissions company, which wealthy parents are accused of paying to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and which allegedly falsified athletic records of students to enable them to secure admission to elite schools - including UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown - according to court records.

Several elite Southern California prep schools have received subpoenas from prosecutors seeking information about some of the students involved in the fraud case. Although the prep schools are not targets of the investigation, prosecutors want to know whether the parents and others accused in the case sought or received help from the schools, sources told The Times.

People with knowledge of the case said it's likely prosecutors are looking at more parents. Court documents said that the scheme's mastermind, William "Rick" Singer, had more than 700 clients.

Related video: Why Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman’s Court Dates Have Been Pushed Back (Video by US Weekly)

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Huffman was initially represented by Hollywood's top criminal defense attorney, Blair Berk; but because the case is in Boston, she will be defended by Marty Murphy of Foley Hoag. Loughlin is represented by Perry Viscounty of Latham & Watkins.

Huffman is accused of disguising a $15,000 charitable payment in the bribery scheme, according to court records. Prosecutors alleged she met with a confidential witness who explained that he could control an SAT testing center and arrange for someone to proctor her daughter's test and correct it.

The actress' older daughter took the test in December 2017 and received a score of 1420. That was a 400-point improvement from her first test. In October, the FBI recorded Huffman allegedly discussing participating in the same scheme for her younger daughter; however, she did not ultimately pursue it.

Last week, her attorney at the time declined to comment.

Loughlin, of "Full House" fame, and Huffman, whose credits include the hit ABC show "Desperate Housewives," are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

According to court records, Loughlin and her husband "agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team" even though they did not participate in crew.

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