USC may move against Lori Loughlin’s daughter in bribery scandal

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The fallout from an alleged nationwide college admissions bribery scheme continued Wednesday with the University of Southern California announcing it’s reviewing the applications of current students caught up in the scandal. That would include Olivia Jade Giannulli, the daughter of actress Lori Loughlin, reports CBS Los Angeles.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 to have their daughters labeled as crew-team recruits at USC, even though neither is a rower.

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At a brief court appearance Wednesday, a judge allowed Loughlin to be released on $1 million bond and travel to the area around Vancouver, Canada, to work but otherwise imposed strict travel restrictions.

Loughlin’s lawyer, Perry Viscounty, declined comment outside the courtroom where, a day earlier, Giannulli was freed on similar terms.

The couple’s 19-year-old daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, is a freshman at USC.

CBS L.A. reports she posted a video on social media last year in which she said she doesn’t “really care about school.”

“I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend,” she said in a video posted to her YouTube channel, which has over 1.9 million subscribers. “I do want the experience of game days, partying, I don’t really care about school, as you guys know.”

A few days after the video was posted on Aug. 14, 2018, she posted a second video apologizing for her comments.Neither Olivia Jade nor any of the other students who may have benefited from the alleged scheme have been charged in the federal case.

Olivia Jade Giannulli, left, with her mother, actress Lori Loughlin, on Feb. 28, 2019, in Beverly Hills Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

USC also said Wednesday it will bar from admission about half a dozen applicants connected to the firm indicted in the sweeping scandal.

William “Rick” Singer, who owns an admissions consulting firm, is accused of conspiring with wealthy parents to pay bribes to get their children into prestigious schools. He pleaded guilty Tuesday.

USC interim President Wanda Austin told the Los Angeles Times about six students linked with Singer’s firm will be barred.

A USC statement said officials will also conduct a case-by-case review of current students and graduates tied to the allegations and “will make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed.”

In addition, Austin said the school has identified at least $1.3 million in donations from those involved in the scheme, and that money will be redirected to scholarships for underprivileged students.

USC was among colleges and companies moving swiftly to distance themselves from employees swept up in the nationwide scheme, many of them coaches accused of taking bribes and others prominent parents accused of angling to get their children into top schools by portraying them as recruited athletes.

That celebrities were among the accused parents – actresses Loughlin and Felicity Huffman headline the list – created much buzz, but other parents charged included people prominent in law, finance, fashion, manufacturing and other fields – people who could afford the steep price.

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents were among those charged. Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, as much as $6.5 million, to guarantee their children’s admission, officials said.

“Every student deserves to be considered on their individual merits when applying to college, and it’s disgraceful to see anyone breaking the law to give their children an advantage over others,” U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement Wednesday. “The department is looking closely at this issue and working to determine if any of our regulations have been violated.”

Admissions scandal renews questions about higher education being rigged for wealthy

Among other parents charged was Gordon Caplan, of Greenwich, Connecticut, co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, based in New York. Caplan “will have no further firm management responsibilities,” the firm said in a statement Wednesday.

Telephone messages seeking comment have been left with Caplan, who is accused of paying $75,000 to get a test supervisor to correct the answers on his daughter’s ACT exam after she took it.

Hercules Capital, a Palo Alto, California, hedge fund, announced Wednesday it was replacing its leader, Manuel Henriquez, who has been arrested in New York City and released on $500,000 bail. Henriquez will still hold a seat on the board and serve as an adviser, Hercules said.

Henriquez and his wife, Elizabeth, of Atherton, California, were charged with participating in the scheme on four occasions for their two daughters. They were also charged with conspiring to bribe Gordon Ernst, former head tennis coach at Georgetown University, to designate their older daughter as a tennis recruit to facilitate her admission and with making a $400,000 contribution to a charity to help her get accepted to the school.

Georgetown said he hadn’t coached there since December 2017 after an investigation found he violated university admissions rules. The University of Rhode Island says Ernst, who was hired as head women’s tennis coach in August, was placed on administrative leave.

At a court hearing Tuesday in Maryland, a federal magistrate freed Ernst on $200,000 bond.

His lawyer, Michael CitaraManis, said his client isn’t a flight risk. Ernst had planned to attend a job interview in Toronto soon, he said, “although I don’t know the impact from these proceedings.”

Also among the charged parents was Homayoun Zadeh, an associate professor of dentistry at the University of Southern California. His status at USC was unclear; his faculty profile has been removed from a website, and phone messages seeking comment were not returned.

Mark Riddell – an administrator for Bradenton, Florida’s IMG Academy, which was founded by renowned tennis coach Nick Bollettieri and bills itself as the world’s largest sports academy – was suspended late Tuesday after he was accused of taking college admissions tests. Riddell didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

Many of the coaches were quickly fired or suspended by the colleges. Prosecutors said the colleges themselves are not targets of the continuing investigation.

USC fired senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic. Court documents say Vavic was paid $250,000 and designated two students as recruits for his team to facilitate their admission. He has been released on bond. A message was left with Vavic’s lawyer seeking comment.

Stanford fired sailing coach John Vandemoer after he was charged with accepting $270,000 in contributions to the program for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission. Neither student came to Stanford, the school said.

The University of Texas fired men’s tennis coach Michael Center on Wednesday, a day after federal officials unveiled documents accusing Center of taking up to nearly $100,000 to get a student into school by listing him as a tennis recruit. Once enrolled the student never played tennis. Center’s attorney has said the coach denies the allegations.

At Wake Forest, President Nathan Hatch said volleyball coach Bill Ferguson, who was accused of taking a bribe, has been suspended. The university’s outside counsel is conducting an internal review, Hatch said.

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