Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman arrived at a Boston court to face charges they took part in the university bribery scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents.

Huffman arrived at the courthouse late on Wednesday morning (local time), three hours before the hearing was scheduled to begin. She was not accompanied by her husband, William H Macy, instead holding hands with her brother.

Actress Felicity Huffman arrives holding hands with her brother, left, at federal court in Boston. Photo / AP
Actress Felicity Huffman arrives holding hands with her brother, left, at federal court in Boston. Photo / AP

The actresses along with Loughlin's fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and dozens of others were charged last month in a scheme in which authorities say parents paid an admissions consultant to bribe college coaches and rig test scores to get their children into elite universities.

Huffman, Loughlin and Giannulli, whose Mossimo clothing had long been a Target brand, have not publicly commented on the allegations. They were set to make their first appearances in Boston's federal court along with other parents charged in the scheme.

Advertisement

Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom Full House in the 1980s and '90s, and Giannulli are accused of paying $US500,000 ($736,000) to have their two daughters labelled as recruits to the University of Southern California rowing team, even though neither participated in the sport.

The Hallmark Channel — where Loughlin starred in popular holiday movies and the series When Calls the Heart — cut ties with Loughlin a day after her arrest. Loughlin and Giannulli's daughter, social media star Olivia Jade Giannulli, was dropped from advertising deals with cosmetics retailer Sephora and hair products company TRESemme.

Huffman, the Emmy-winning star of Desperate Housewives, is accused of paying $US15,000 ($22,100) that she disguised as a charitable donation to cheat on her daughter's college entrance exam.

Among the other parents expected in the Boston court was Gordon Caplan, former co-chairman of the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, based in New York.

Mr Caplan is accused of paying $US75,000 ($110,000) to get a test supervisor to correct the answers on his daughter's college entrance exam after she took it. Mr Caplan's firm said after his arrest that he has been placed on a leave of absence.

People photograph actress Lori Loughlin as she arrives at federal court in Boston. Photo / AP
People photograph actress Lori Loughlin as she arrives at federal court in Boston. Photo / AP
Actress Felicity Huffman arrives at federal court. Photo / AP
Actress Felicity Huffman arrives at federal court. Photo / AP

The consultant at the centre of the scheme, Rick Singer, pleaded guilty and is co-operating with investigators. Former Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith also pleaded guilty.

A Department of Homeland Security officer patrols with his K-9 outside federal court in Boston. Photo / AP
A Department of Homeland Security officer patrols with his K-9 outside federal court in Boston. Photo / AP

Several coaches pleaded not guilty, including tennis coach Gordon Ernst who's accused of getting $US2.7 million ($3.9 million) in bribes to designate at least 12 applicants as recruits to Georgetown.