Hallmark Channel Cuts Ties With Lori Loughlin After Arrest in Cheating Scandal
The owner of the Hallmark Channel said on Thursday that it would no longer work with shows featuring the actress Lori Loughlin, one of the parents implicated in a sprawling college admissions cheating operation that was revealed by federal prosecutors this week.
Ms. Loughlin, 54, who made her name in the late 1980s as Aunt Becky on the family sitcom “Full House,” had an important role in the Hallmark show “When Calls the Heart” and was the hero of the channel’s TV movie series “Garage Sale Mysteries.” But no longer.
“We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company, said in a statement. “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 Lori Loughlin including ‘Garage Sale Mysteries,’ an independent third party production.”
Ms. Loughlin is one of 50 people charged in a fraud scheme in which wealthy parents paid to help their children win admission to elite colleges or to inflate their SAT scores. Ms. Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, the founder of the Mossimo fashion brand, were accused of paying two bribes of $50,000 each to Donna Heinel, a senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California. Prosecutors said Ms. Heinel then marked the girls as recruits for the rowing team, which would improve their chances of admission, even though neither daughter participated in the sport.
After each daughter got her acceptance letter, the couple paid $200,000 each time to a charity whose founder, William Singer, was the mastermind of the operation, according to prosecutors. Ms. Loughlin and Mr. Giannulli were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, and were each released on bail.
Ms. Heinel, who faces a charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering, was fired by U.S.C. Mr. Singer has pleaded guilty to several charges and is cooperating with investigators.
One of Ms. Loughlin’s and Mr. Giannulli’s daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli, is a social media influencer, paid to promote brands to her millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram. At least one brand, Sephora, ended its partnership with Ms. Giannulli after her parents’ arrests.
While Hallmark’s owner said it would stop development of shows featuring Ms. Loughlin, it did not say whether it would air any episodes or movies already completed. She plays a miner’s widow in “When Calls the Heart,” a period drama set in a Canadian coal mining town. In “Garage Sale Mysteries,” she plays an antiques dealer who solves crimes. A spokesman for Ms. Loughlin declined to comment.
Another actress charged in connection with the scheme was Felicity Huffman, who is accused of paying $15,000 to have a test proctor inflate her older daughter’s SAT score.
Ms. Huffman and Ms. Loughlin both have coming projects with Netflix. Ms. Loughlin has a role on “Fuller House,” a reboot of the 1980s and 1990s sitcom, and Ms. Huffman is in the cast of “When They See Us,” a series about the Central Park jogger case, written and directed by Ava DuVernay, as well as the movie “Otherhood.” Both of Ms. Huffman’s projects have wrapped production. Netflix declined to comment.
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