World

Celebrities lose work over US uni scam

By AAP Newswire

Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin has been dropped by a TV network and her daughter lost a sponsorship deal, while students sued prestigious universities in a growing fallout from a massive college bribery scandal.

Crown Media Family Networks, the company that owns the Hallmark cable channel, said it has cut ties with Loughlin, its Garage Sale Mysteries star, after she was charged in the scandal.

"We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels" involving the actress, the company said in a statement.

Hallmark's announcement followed an earlier one from LVMH's Sephora beauty chain, which said it was ending its partnership with Loughlin's daughter, Olivia Jade.

Products from her makeup collaboration had been removed from Sephora's website by Thursday afternoon.

Loughlin and her husband were accused on Tuesday of paying $US500,000 in a scheme that involved cheating on college entrance exams and bribing athletic coaches to help Olivia and her sister, Isabella Giannulli, get into the University of Southern California (USC), according to court documents.

Loughlin and her husband were taken into federal custody and later released on separate $US1 million bonds on Wednesday.

Lawsuits began emerging a day after federal prosecutors said a California company made about $US25 million from parents seeking spots for their children in top schools, including Georgetown University, Stanford University and Yale University.

Fifty people, including 33 parents and athletics coaches, have been criminally charged in the largest known college admissions scandal in the US.

The accused mastermind, William Singer, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.

In one civil lawsuit, Stanford students Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods said they were denied a fair opportunity to win admission to Yale and USC because of alleged racketeering, and said their degrees from Stanford will be devalued.

Another lawsuit filed by Joshua Toy and his mother said he was denied college admission despite a 4.2 grade point average, and seeks $US500 billion of damages from 45 defendants for defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose "rights to a fair chance" to enter college was stolen.

Prosecutors said Singer used his Edge College & Career Network and an affiliated nonprofit to help prospective students cheat on college admission tests and bribe coaches to inflate or create athletic credentials.

The original tip that led to uncovering the college scandal stemmed from an unrelated securities fraud probe into Morrie Tobin, a Los Angeles resident who prosecutors said engaged in "pump-and-dump" stock market schemes.

Tobin, who pleaded guilty on February 27 to conspiracy and securities fraud charges, told authorities a Yale University women's soccer coach had sought a bribe in exchange for helping his daughter get into the Ivy League school.