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We’d been waiting for hours in a drab beige hallway, hunched over phones or laptops, when we were herded into a windowless courtroom and packed into pew-style seats.
And then, there she was, the actress Lori Loughlin. She wore large glasses and a cream mockneck sweater. She sat behind a pane of glass, alongside federal agents and a few other people accused of committing crimes against the United States.
Ms. Loughlin had surrendered to the authorities in Los Angeles earlier in the day, after she and her husband, the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were charged as part of a vast college admissions fraud investigation that has ballooned into a national scandal.
News crews waited outside the Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles for Ms. Loughlin’s court appearance.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
Prosecutors have alleged that Ms. Loughlin and Mr. Giannulli, who appeared in court on Tuesday, paid $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters accepted as recruits for the rowing team at the University of Southern California, even though neither took part in the sport.
On Wednesday, at the Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles, Ms. Loughlin appeared before a judge for the first time. The hearing, in which she agreed to post a $1 million bond secured by her home, lasted just minutes. Such is the peculiar phenomenon of a celebrity court appearance.
Outside the courtroom, I met Mona S. Edwards, who’s been working as a courtroom sketch artist for about three decades. She started as a fashion illustrator, which she said was good training for observing what people wear and how they move.
Ms. Loughlin, for instance, wasn’t arrested at home without warning. So it was no accident, Ms. Edwards said, that she chose a white sweater. The actress had stood with her arms crossed, obscured by her lawyer.
Though she didn’t have as much time to sketch as she has in full trials, Ms. Edwards said the day was the same as any: unpredictable.
“The thing is, I’m always ready,” she told me later. “I never know if I have five minutes or an hour.”
After Ms. Loughlin’s appearance, most of the couple dozen reporters filed back into the hall. That’s when Stephen Semprevivo was called.
Mr. Semprevivo is an outsourcing executive from Los Angeles and another parent charged in the case.
He wore a white button-down shirt, open at the collar, and looked glumly toward his wife, who was seated in the courtroom.
Ms. Loughlin had already agreed to the million-dollar bail, but Mr. Semprevivo’s lawyers asked for their client’s to be set at a quarter of that.
But Alex Wyman, an assistant United States attorney, argued that the defendant had been accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and the bail amount needed to be significant enough to make an impression.
So the judge set it at $1 million, too. Both Mr. Semprevivo and Ms. Loughlin are due in court in Boston later this month.
Here’s what else we’re following
(We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times stories, but we’d also encourage you to support local news if you can.)
• The editorial board of The Times wrote that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions in California “should signal the demise of a barbaric practice.” California’s is the largest death row in the country, with 737 inmates. They all got temporary reprieves. [New York Times Opinion]
• In a tweet, Senator Kamala Harris, who’s running for president, also supported Mr. Newsom’s decision, calling the death penalty “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective and proven to be unequally applied.” [Kamala Harris]
• Sea level rise could cause damage equivalent to 6.3 percent of the state’s G.D.P., new research found. That’s worse than the worst earthquakes and wildfires. [The Los Angeles Times]
• Facebook is under criminal investigation for its deals giving other companies access to users’ data. The news comes as the social network continues to face scrutiny and scandal. [The New York Times]
• In an unrelated college admissions cheating scandal, five California residents are accused of helping Chinese nationals cheat on English language exams to get student visas to attend colleges like U.C. Riverside, U.C.L.A. and Columbia University. [The Los Angeles Times]
• Nazi fliers were found at Newport Harbor High School, the same one that recently tried to quell outrage after images of students saluting a swastika made of plastic cups surfaced on social media. [The New York Times]
• Lexipol, a for-profit private company based in California, has been quietly writing police policies designed to minimize liability. But some say a one-size-fits-all approach raises questions. [CityLab]
• On a flight from Oakland to Los Angeles aboard a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane — all of which have now been grounded in the U.S. — Southwest passengers were mostly calm, and trying not to think about it. [The New York Times]
More California stories
• Remember how the Michelin Guide was set to expand its California guide to regions across the state? The state’s tourism board paid $600,000 for it, which raises questions about the objectivity of the coveted ratings. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
• Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all went down at the same time. People were upset. [The New York Times]
• In Indian Wells, Naomi Osaka is adjusting to life with a new coach and a No. 1 ranking. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
You’ve most likely seen the top of San Francisco’s Transamerica pyramid in photos like the one above, peeking out from above the rolling fog. Until 2017, it was the city’s tallest building at 853 feet. (Here’s a fascinating history of San Francisco’s skyline from The Times.)
But it’s rare to see photos from directly above the building, as this Curbed San Francisco story notes. So you may not have known that its tip is made of glass. It’s also closed to visitors for security reasons.
A Bay Area photographer, Ryan Fitzsimons, managed to capture this photo. And the view is mesmerizing.
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.