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April 15, 2019

Lori Loughlin has pleaded not guilty to charges brought over her alleged role in a nationwide college admissions scam.

The Full House actress and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, on Monday entered not guilty pleas while waiving their right to be arraigned in court, The Associated Press reports. It's not clear whether the judge will require them to appear, ABC News notes.

Prosecutors last month said that Loughlin and Giannulli paid $500,000 in order to have their daughters, who don't row, recruited to the University of Southern California as members of the crew team. Loughlin and others were indicted on April 9, with a new money laundering charge being added alongside conspiracy to commit mail fraud. This additional charge was described by The Associated Press as prosecutors adding pressure on the parents to plead guilty.

Felicity Huffman, who was also charged in the college admission scandal, previously pleaded guilty, saying in a statement that she accepts "full responsibility" for her actions. But Loughlin is going in the opposite direction as she faces the possibility of years in jail. CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Elie Honig told CNN on Monday that Loughlin is taking a "big risk," and he predicted there will be a "big difference" in the end result for Loughlin and Huffman. Brendan Morrow

April 8, 2019

Smallvile actress Allison Mack has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges over her role in an alleged sex cult.

The actress said in court on Monday that she has "come to the conclusion that I must take full responsibility for my conduct,"Vulture reports. After previously entering a not guilty plea, she pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and another count of racketeering conspiracy.

After arresting Mack in April 2018, the FBI alleged that she recruited women to what she said was a mentorship group under the organization NXIVM but which consisted of a sex trafficking cult in which "slaves," who were controlled by "masters," were "exploited, both sexually and for their labor." Mack allegedly "directly or implicitly required" women recruited for the organization to engage in sexual activity with its founder, Keith Raniere. The women were allegedly branded with Raniere's initials and required to provide compromising material that could be released for any reason, including if they left the organization. For her role in this, Mack was financially compensated, the FBI said.

Mack in court admitted that she participated in the organization and instructed women to "perform services for me," also saying that the group was "designed to make them think they could suffer serious harm" if they refused, Page Six reports. She also said that she "believed Keith Raniere's intentions were to help people, and I was wrong." She faces up to 20 years in prison. Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina may be about to plead guilty.

Butina's attorneys on Monday filed a request for her to withdraw her previous plea of not guilty, The Washington Post reports. CNN writes that she looks to have reached a plea deal with the Justice Department, although any further details, including what she would be pleading guilty to, are currently unclear.

Five months ago, Butina was arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy and one of acting as an agent to a foreign government. She has been accused of spending years attempting to influence American policy by forging relationships with prominent conservatives, including with the National Rifle Association, while keeping in contact with Russians, per CNN. Butina's lawyers have argued that she was simply interested in improving Russia's relationship with the United States, The Associated Press reports. Her arrest was not a part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

However, The New York Times reports that any plea deal would likely require cooperation with ongoing investigations, leaving open the possibility that she could provide them with some key information. Brendan Morrow

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