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The Justice Department charged at least 50 people on Tuesday in a college entrance scheme that involved crimes dating back to 2011.

The big picture: In what U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling called the "largest college admittance scam ever charged by the Department of Justice," some defendants allegedly bribed athletic coaches and administrators to falsely portray their children as athletic recruits, while others bribed administrators to allow cheating on college-entrance exams.

  • Two actresses — Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" and Lori Loughlin of "Full House"— were charged alongside dozens of others.
  • An FBI official said during a press conference that approximately 300 special agents from the FBI and IRS set out to arrest 46 individuals this morning. At least 38 have been safely taken into custody, 7 are working toward surrender and 1 is being actively pursued. Among the people charged are 33 parents who paid "enormous sums" to ensure their children's' entrance and 9 coaches. Other parents are believed to have been involved.
  • Officials say parents spent between $200,000 to $6.5 million.
  • Lelling said that the colleges are not of interest in the ongoing investigation.

Go deeper

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight, hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts on Wednesday.

The big picture: Officials in the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley issued air quality alerts as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.