Lori Loughlin lands on her feet – announces first acting job since college admissions fraud scandal

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were caught up in Operation Varsity Blues. They are two of the more prominent names connected with the FBI investigation into a substantial college admissions scam. The FBI investigation determined that the couple paid bribes to get their two daughters, Bella and Olivia Jade, into the University of Southern California. Once Loughlin’s connection in the FBI investigation became known, she was fired from both the Hallmark Network and Netflix where she was working.

The arrest of Lori Loughlin was a shock at the time because of her squeaky clean image. She played Aunt Becky on Full House for many years. Giannulli’s fashion line was known for its affordability and sold in Target stores. They and other wealthy parents made the mistake of paying large sums of money to get their children accepted into colleges of their choice. Call it helicopter parenting or a case of entitlement, the parents caught up in the FBI investigation were doing what many wealthy parents have done in the past – grease the wheels of the college admission process by giving large contributions to the universities. In this case, though, instead of giving the contributions (bribes) directly to the school, the parent (s) used a middle man, Rick Singer. His elaborate scam included bribing college coaches and lying about the athletic accomplishments of the applicants in order to be accepted to the school. Loughlin and Giannuli are reported to have paid up to $500,000.

Loughlin and Giannuli both pleaded out and served jail sentences. Loughlin was sentenced to two months in federal prison after being found guilty of one count of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. She was released in December. She is on probation and paid a fine of $150,000. She is performing 100 hours of community service. Her husband was sentenced to five months in prison for his role.

It’s time for a comeback for Aunt Becky. Let’s face it, she was always going to make a comeback. When the scandal broke, she was working for both the Hallmark Channel and for Netflix. She was filming season 6 of When Calls the Heart for Hallmark and released from that role at the time. She was participating in the remake of Full House on Netflix, titled Fuller House, and was let go from the latest season of that show in 2019. Her return to working status as an actress was first reported in Deadline. The first indication that Loughlin may be returning to acting came last week when the Mercury News reported that she was given permission by a Boston federal judge (the sentencings of the parents came from a Boston federal court) to travel to Canada. She needs permission to leave the country since she’s still on probation. The judge granted the request for about a week in late September to early October for “a filming production project.”

The project is for GAC Family. It’s a new network, formerly Great American Country, that launched Monday. She will reprise her previous role in When Calls the Heart in the spin-off, When Hope Calls.

Having Loughlin on board for the Season 2 premiere in her return to acting after a year and a half is certain to bring attention to When Hope Calls — as well as GAC Family, which launched yesterday, Sept. 27 with the tagline “Stories Well Told.” Formerly Great American Country, the newly rebranded channel is run by President & CEO Bill Abbott, former CEO of Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Family Networks, who is taking a page out of his old playbook in shaping GAC Family’s brand as a home of family-friendly, holiday-themed movies and series.

Season 2 of When Hope Calls, whose first season aired as the first original on Hallmark Channel’s streaming service Hallmark Movies Now, marks the first original series for GAC Family. Series’ star Morgan Kohan is back, reprising her role as Lillian Walsh, with additional cast, believed to include RJ Hatanaka, to be announced soon.

It sounds as though this is a limited role, likely the top brass will see what interest in Loughlin is and how the ratings go for the remake. If I have to guess, I’d say her appearance will bring a lot of eyes to the show, certainly out of curiosity. She is also making waves for appearing with her daughter Olivia Jade, an Instagram influencer when her parents tried to buy her way into college, on this season’s Dancing With the Stars.

Actress Felicity Huffman was also involved in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. Her payment to Singer was much smaller than Loughlin’s, reported to be $15,000, and she served eleven days of a two-week sentence in prison. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She is serving a year of supervised release. She, too, is experiencing a Hollywood comeback. She will have a role in an upcoming comedy series.

I’m not going to dog either woman for seeking employment and going back to work. They made poor decisions and screwed worthy students out of slots in their colleges of choice, true. For that, they were found guilty in court, sentenced to prison, paid fines, and are serving on probation and doing community service. In other words, they both paid the price. They aren’t dangers to their communities. They wrote big checks to help their kids, they didn’t commit violent crimes. They’ve been publicly humiliated. Now it’s time for them to move on with their lives.

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