Well, Aunt Becky really stepped in it this time. If you’re somehow not already in the loop, actress Lori Loughlin — known for such wholesome projects as Full House, the Hallmark series When Calls the Heart, and basic cable made-for-television Christmas movies — is facing up to 40 years in prison over a college bribery scandal. But how did this all happen? How did we get here? Let’s dig in with a timeline to see how this came to fruition.
January 26, 1993
Loughlin starred in the Full House season six episode titled, “Be True to Your Preschool,” alongside her onscreen husband John Stamos. In the episode, Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky get the idea to “fast track” the education of their sons, Nicky and Alex, by getting them into a prestigious upper crust preschool. To do so, the couple decides to falsify information on the application form to ensure the twins are accepted.
Clearer heads eventually prevail on TV, but it’s worth noting the resemblance to the very real-life situation in which Loughlin will later find herself.
November 27, 1997
Loughlin eloped with fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli after divorcing investment banker Michael R. Burns the previous year. The two would go on to have two children together: Olivia Jade Giannulli, now 19; and Isabella Rose Giannulli, now 20.
Unknown date, 2016
Olivia Jade appeared on an episode of something called “Tap That Awesome App” for a now defunct Verizon mobile phone channel, which was later said to have been rigged in her favor. Fellow social media influencer Marissa Rachel was reportedly declared the winner in front of a live audience; however, the show then apparently had a reshoot, making it appear that Olivia Jade was the winner, bringing in $5,000 for her charity.
— USC Women's Rowing (@USCWomensRowing) August 17, 2018
August 17, 2018
A tweet from the official USC Crew Team Twitter account seemingly tongue-in-cheek foreshadowed what was to come with a tweet advertising women’s rowing tryouts. “Want to become a Division I athlete? Look into joining our Trojan Rowing Family!” the tweet read, accompanied by a poster graphic with tryout information, stating: “No previous rowing experience necessary.”
March 12, 2019
Loughlin and Giannulli were two of 50 people (including actress Felicity Huffman) who were busted by the Justice Department in a nationwide college admissions scam, later to be known as “Operation Varsity Blues.” The couple were accused of paying $500,000 (disguised as a donation to the Key Worldwide Foundation) to get Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose onto the University of Southern California crew team, thus ensuring their admission to the school — despite the fact that neither daughter had an affiliation with the sport nor would be participating on the team.
March 13, 2019
Loughlin and Giannulli surrendered themselves to federal authorities in Los Angeles and were later released after posting $1 million bail. As part of the conditions of her release, Loughlin was forced to agree to travel restrictions and surrender her passport.
At the time of her mother’s arrest, Olivia Jade had been celebrating spring break on a yacht owned by a member of USC’s board of trustees, Rick Caruso.
March 14, 2019
- Olivia Jade, who was already an Instagram influencer with a YouTube channel boasting two million subscribers when she began attending USC, was dropped from a lucrative partnership with Sephora, and her exclusive highlighter palette was likewise pulled from stores. It was later reported that she understandably blamed her mother for the “downfall of her career,” since she didn’t even want to attend college in the first place.
- The Hallmark channel’s parent company, Crowd Media, released a statement to confirm that they’d dropped Loughlin from all future projects. They also stopped development of all productions necessarily involving the actress, including Garage Sale Mysteries — a film series consisting of 15 television movies that Loughlin had starred in since 2013.
March 15, 2019
- Netflix dropped Loughlin ahead of the filming of the fifth and final season of Fuller House. She had previously appeared in roughly 20 percent of the series episodes.
- Target likewise issued a statement distancing the chain from Giannulli, commenting: “We haven’t had a working relationship with Mossimo Giannulli in over a decade and we no longer carry any Mossimo branded products at Target.”
- Loughlin, Huffman, and others involved in the scandal were sued for $500 billion by angry mother and former Oakland-area teacher Jennifer Kay Toy. Toy claims to believe that “the actions of those implicated in the scheme prevented her son, Joshua Toy, from being admitted to several colleges ensnared in the scandal.”
- The lawsuit joined another federal class-action lawsuit by two Stanford University students against eight colleges including USC, UCLA, Yale, and Georgetown. They’re seeking damages for any student who applied to one or more of the named universities between 2012 and 2019 and was subsequently rejected.
April 3, 2019
TMZ broke the news that Loughlin, Giannulli, and Huffman were facing prison time even if they accepted a plea deal — which was later confirmed.
April 8, 2019
It was reported that Felicity Huffman would plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for allegedly paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT score. In a statement, the actress accepted full responsibility for her actions.
April 9, 2016
- Loughlin and Giannulli were indeed offered a plea deal that would have included a mandatory two year prison sentence, but they rejected it because Loughlin reportedly thought the district attorney was “bluffing” about them serving time. “She’s has been in complete denial and thought maybe she could skate by,” said a source familiar with Loughlin.
- In addition to being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, Loughlin and Giannulli were slapped with severe new charges in a second, superseding indictment (for conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering in connection with the case). Each of the new charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, which means that both Loughlin and her husband are looking at up to 40 years a piece.
April 13, 2019
The Hallmark channel renewed When Calls the Heart for a seventh season sans Loughlin, after having pulled the quaint, 20th century-based series off the air in mid-March “retooling” after the scandal broke. The remaining episodes of season six have also been re-edited to scrub out Loughlin’s character, Abigail Stanton, the mayor of the fictional town of Hope Valley, and will return on May 5.
“The remaining season 6 installments have been re-edited in such a manner that removes any appearances by Loughlin,” a source told EW. Hallmark has not commented on the fate of the character, which is apparently pivotal to the series.
April 15, 2019
Loughlin and Giannulli entered not guilty pleas in court documents filed on behalf of the couple, and by doing so, they so waived their right to appear in court for an arraignment. Their fate will now rest in the hands of a jury. Neither of them have yet to publicly address the allegations against them.
April 17, 2019
Anonymous sources reported that Loughlin and Giannulli were evidently furious that people now think of them as “cheaters.” “This is putting unspeakable stress on her and her family,” a source close to Loughlin tells PEOPLE. “They’re having to play this all out publicly, and they’re fair game for jokes and memes, but also outraged [by] people who are saying that they are cheaters.”
May 7, 2019
- Olivia Jade was seen out and about hanging out with friends amid reports that she was “living her best life” while her parents were still facing up to facing up to 40 years in prison for their alleged crimes. She also reportedly also moved into a new home as she wanted “a new place to start a new chapter.”
- It was announced that the Operation Varsity Blues saga would be turned into a television miniseries, after Annapurna Television optioned the rights to Accepted, Melissa Korn and Jen Levitz’s forthcoming nonfiction account of the scandal. It’s unclear exactly when that series will his screens as the book is not out yet, since the story is still unfolding in real-time.
May 16, 2019
One of the juicier tidbits regarding Loughlin and Giannulli’s alleged involvement in the scandal surfaced over reports that Giannulli had an encounter with Olivia Jade’s then-high school guidance counselor when he questioned the teen’s alleged “rowing credentials.” Loughlin also mentioned the incident in an email to scam ringleader Rick Singer over their younger daughter’s formal USC application, referring to the counselor as “our little friend.”
It’s possible that the guidance counselor could be called as a witness when the case goes to trial.
May 24, 2019
Production begins on the fifth and final season of Fuller House. Loughlin is nowhere to be seen in behind-the-scenes photos and memories.
May 26, 2019
Reports surfaced that Olivia Jade was fully aware of what her parents did to get her into USC. “Olivia fully knew what her parents did to get her into USC, but didn’t think there was anything wrong with it,” an insider alleged. “She didn’t get into any other California schools.”
June 7, 2019
USA Today reported that Loughlin’s legal woes could take yet another turn for the worse over a possible impending battle with USC on the horizon. Lawyers for the university are said to have acknowledged to Loughlin and Giannulli that there are “possible legal disputes” on the way, based on a response letter filed in federal court by attorneys for the couple.
July 29, 2019
Both Isabella and Olivia Jade Giannulli finally break their social media silence to wish their mother a happy birthday on Instagram.
August 11, 2019
Olivia Jade uploaded a photo of herself giving two middle fingers to Instagram, in a post in which she tagged various media outlets.
September 13, 2019
Felicity Huffman is sentenced to 14 days behind bars for her involvement in a college admissions bribery scandal.
September 17, 2019
Just days after Huffman’s sentencing, Olivia Jade removes the aforementioned Instagram photo of herself giving the vulgar gesture from Instagram — which had apparently gone against the advice of her lawyer in the first place.
This story is ongoing, so please check back for updates.