In the wake of an alleged college admission cheating scam that involved elite universities and more than 50 people (including high profile actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman), questions are being raised about the fate of those involved.
Federal court records unsealed Tuesday in Boston name 50 people who have been indicted as part of the nationwide scheme, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
“Dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits were arrested by federal agents in multiple states and charged in documents unsealed on March 12, 2019, in federal court in Boston,” the release says.
James J. Leonard Jr., a legal expert based out of Atlantic City, says prison time could be a possibility, though not a likely one.
“This is a federal prosecution brought forth by the Department of Justice that carries with it potential life-altering consequences for those involved. The stakes could not be higher,” he tells PEOPLE. “A custodial term is always a possibility when you are charged with felonies. The question to ask is if it’s a probability, and in this case I don’t see it as a probability with respect to the parents involved.”
Huffman allegedly gave $15,000 “to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter,” the indictment states.
Loughlin allegedly gave $500,000 to say her child was part of the rowing team, when that was not true, the indictment states.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI claimed in the indictment that the alleged scheme helped students gain acceptance to top schools by helping them cheat on college exams.
The documents say actress Loughlin — best known for her role as Aunt Becky on the ABC sitcom Full House — and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC.”
Federal agents obtained emails from Loughlin allegedly implicating her in the scam, according to the documents.
Reps for Huffman and Loughlin did not immediately return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.
“At the end of the day, we are talking about parents who tried to help their children,” says Leonard. “And crossed the line in doing so.”