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  1. ITV Report

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and actress Lori Loughlin charged in college bribery case

Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have been charged over the bribery.

Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin have been charged with at least 40 other people over a scheme which saw wealthy parents pay bribes to have their children admitted to some of the US' most elite schools.

Prosecutors say the Desperate Housewives and Full House actresses used "a catalogue of wealth and privilege,” to get their children into prestigious institutions, with more than £25 million (£19 million) changing hands.

They are accused of bribing college coaches and insiders at testing centres to falsify athletic and academic records.

Those charged include several sports coaches.

  • What have the case's prosecutors said?

Prosecutors accuse the charged parents of paying an admissions consultant from 2011 until last month to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes, to alter test scores and to have others take online classes to boost their children’s chances of getting into schools.

“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected,” prosecutor Lelling said.

It is believed sums of up to $6.5million (£4.9million) transferred between parents and coaches.

In total, it is believed the fraud saw more than $25 million (£19 million) change hands.

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The racketeering conspiracy charges have been brought against coaches at schools including Wake Forest, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles.

Prosecuting the defendants, Mr Lelling said it was the largest college admissions scam to be prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

  • How did the 'scam' work and how did it come to light?

Authorities says coaches in football, tennis and volleyball accepted bribes to put students on lists of recruited athletes, regardless of their ability or experience.

The bribes allegedly came through an admissions consulting company in Newport Beach, California.

Authorities says parents paid the founder of the Edge College & Career Network approximately $25 million to get their children into college.

A former Yale football coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.

Court papers said a co-operating witness met Huffman and her husband, actor William H Macy, at their Los Angeles home and explained the scam to them.

William H Macy and Felicity Huffman at the Academy Awards. Credit: AP
  • What has the reaction to the scandal been?

The scandal has sent shockwaves with the US' TV and film industry.

Speaking on the charges filed against Felicity Huffman, actress Gideon Adlon said: "I mean, it's wrong. I feel bad for her kids, that's what I can say.

"I feel bad because I don't think they knew that their parents were doing that and I think that's embarrassing. Like, you're going to college. That's a fun thing. And now - you know, it's embarrassing. I don't know, but it's wrong and I feel bad for the kids."

Students at universities in the USA have also condemned the payment for places admissions scam.

  • What is likely to happen next?

The FBI said 13 defendants have been taken into custody in the Los Angeles area, including Huffman.

Loughlin was not taken into custody but her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was arrested at their home.

They will have initial court appearances on Tuesday.