On the same day that federal prosecutors announced that actress Lori Loughlin was among 50 people who had been charged in connection to a complex college admissions scheme, Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade was spending spring break aboard a luxury yacht with the daughter of an official connected to the University of Southern California, the very school her parents are accused of cheating to get her into.
Loughlin flew from Vancouver to Los Angeles on Tuesday night to surrender to authorities, while her 19-year-old daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli was on a yacht owned by billionaire Rick Caruso, chairman of USC’s board of trustees, TMZ reports. Olivia Jade is friends with Caruso’s daughter, Gianna, and the two, along with other friends, were spending spring break aboard his yacht in the Bahamas, according to the outlet. However, once news broke that Loughlin had been implicated in the scandal, Olivia Jade left to go back home, Rick Caruso confirmed to TMZ.
“My daughter and a group of students left for spring break prior to the government’s announcement yesterday. Once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home,” he said.
Caruso had also told the Los Angeles Times that he knew two families connected to the scheme, but declined to name them.
“I’m shocked by it. I am really so legitimately saddened for the kids,” he told the outlet. “It’s an unthinkable act.”
Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, detailed the complex plot in a press conference on Tuesday, explaining that 50 individuals, many of them wealthy parents, had collectively paid millions of dollars in order for their children to gain entry into top universities like Yale and Stanford. The parents are alleged to have done so through bribery and cheating, and with the help of corrupt coaches and exam proctors in a system organized and maintained by William Singer, the owner of a college prep business. Authorities have accused Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, of paying Singer $500,000 in order for their two daughters to be admitted to USC as members of the rowing team, even though neither of them is an athlete.
Giannulli was arrested on Tuesday and released after posting bail the same day, but Loughlin was reportedly away filming in Vancouver when authorities arrived at her Los Angeles home to serve the arrest warrant. She surrendered to police on Wednesday and, after a brief court appearance, during which the judge allowed her to keep her passport so that she could continue working on a project in Vancouver, she was released on a $1 million dollar bond.
Actress Felicity Huffman has also been charged in connection to the case. She and her husband, actor William H. Macy, allegedly paid Singer $15,000 in the form of a “charitable contribution” in order to “participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,” an affidavit states. After a brief court appearance, Huffman was released on $250,000 bail on Wednesday.
While prosecutors have said that their investigation focused on the parents and other coordinators involved rather than the students who benefited from their actions, Olivia Jade, who is currently facing backlash for past controversial comments about college, may still have to face consequences. USC officials announced Wednesday their plan to “conduct a case-by-case review for current students and graduates that may be connected” to the alleged scheme, but they have not yet specified what repercussions, if any, such students may expect to face, CBS Los Angeles reports.
“We will make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed,” their statements reads. “Some of these individuals may have been minors at the time of their application process.”
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.