The Hallmark Channel’s parent company, Crown Media, has decided to sever its relationship with Lori Loughlin after federal authorities charged the actress in connection with an elite nationwide college cheating scheme this week.
Best known for playing Aunt Becky on the long-running sitcom “Full House” in the 1990s ― and then again in the Netflix revival ― Loughlin has been a staple of Hallmark Channel programming in recent years. She starred in the network’s period drama “When Calls the Heart,” beginning in 2014 and regularly appeared on “Garage Sale Mysteries,” a series of crime drama flicks made for television, along with a number of Christmas movies for the channel.
Loughlin surrendered to law enforcement Wednesday, one day after the FBI announced it indicted dozens of people allegedly involved in the scam. Officials say wealthy parents paid for good scores on their children’s SATs and ACTs and bribed college coaches and admissions officials to get their kids into elite schools.
“We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” Crown Media said in a statement to HuffPost.
The network prides itself on its clean image. Asked about Hallmark’s success, Crown Media CEO Bill Abbott told The Washington Post that in an “undeniably contentious” national environment, “we are a place you can go and feel good.”
As Loughlin faces a federal indictment, Crown Media said that is “no longer working with” her and that it has halted development of all its productions involving her, including “Garage Sale Mysteries,” even though the series is made by an independent third party.
Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were both charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in the Central District of California. They were booked and released on bail set at $1 million each for allegedly paying a college consultant company $500,000 to ensure their two daughters would be accepted to the University of Southern California as athletic recruits.
The daughters were billed as crew athletes, even though neither one actually played the sport. Almost instantly after the announcement, a video showing Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, an Instagram and YouTube influencer, complaining about her college classes drew outrage.
Actress Felicity Huffman, known for her role on “Desperate Housewives,” was also indicted in the scheme. She allegedly paid $15,000 for the college consultant company to help her elder daughter cheat on her college placement exams and was released on $250,000 bail.
Other parents named in court documents included a variety of chief executives along with real estate professionals and top attorneys on both coasts.
A representative for Loughlin declined to comment.