Update 2:45 p.m., March 12:
TMZ reports Felicity Huffman is in federal custody and waiting to sign a bond promising she will appear in court to face the charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.
A dozen other defendants from the Los Angeles area, including Lori Loughlin’s husband Mossimo Giannulli, were taken into custody this morning.
The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office report to E! News that Loughlin is currently out of the country but has been contact by federal authorities, who instructed her to return to America and turn herself in.
The original story follows.
An investigation into an alleged college admissions bribery scam turned up two very surprising names: TV stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
The stars were among the list of more than 40 people indicted in a federal bribery case in Massachusetts Tuesday.
Charges of racketeering conspiracy were also brought against coaches at several U.S. colleges including Wake Forest University, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California.
Investigators allege the coaches took bribes to admit students to their schools as athletes, regardless of their actual athletic skill.
NBC News reports that several parents paid William Rick Singer, the founder of a for-profit college prep business in California, who passed money on to college coaches and SAT or ACT officials.
The alleged amounts paid range from thousands of dollars to $6 million, with more than $25 million in bribe money handed over altogether according to court documents.
Federal authorities say Fuller House star Loughlin and her husband, 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."
Loughlin’s daughter, YouTube blogger Olivia Jade, attends USC.
Investigators say Singer helped to fabricate profiles for other students which presented them as star athletes despite their lack of actual talent.
Desperate Housewives star Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, allegedly "made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000... to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter."
"Huffman later made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so," authorities say.
Investigators say several students were helped to cheat on their ACT and SAT tests as part of the scheme.
In some cases, impostors allegedly sat the tests for students, while in other cases they were provided with test answers, or had their answers corrected by bribed test administrators.
Federal agents allege they have evidence including emails obtained from Loughlin and a recorded phone call between Huffman and another witness to back up their case.
Huffman and Loughlin are both charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. Warrants have been issued for their arrest.
According to the unsealed indictments, William H. Macy has not been charged.
So far neither actress has issued a statement about the charges, and there is no evidence that the colleges were involved in any of the wrongdoing.