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Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli To Plead Guilty In College Bribery Case
The couple will face prison time, hefty fines, supervised release, and hundreds of hours of community service, according to prosecutors.
Actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli have agreed to plead guilty for their participation in a college admissions bribery scandal, prosecutors said.
Loughlin, 55, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Massachusetts said in a release issued Thursday. As part of her plea agreement, she will be sentenced to two months in prison followed by two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service, in addition to paying a $150,000 fine.
Her husband, Giannulli, 56, faces a slightly steeper sentence; he has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud, and will be sentenced to five months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service. He will also have to pay a harsher fine, at $250,000. Both sentences are subject to approval by the court, officials said.
Both are scheduled to enter their pleas at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, according to the website of the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Massachusetts.
Loughlin and Giannulli have been accused of paying $500,000 to arrange for their two daughters to be admitted into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits, despite the girls’ lack of participation in high school sports. Loughlin, known for her role as Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli, a designer whose brand was once a mainstay at Target, were among dozens of wealthy — and, in some cases, famous — parents who were charged last year for their participation in a college admissions bribery scheme. Federal authorities, who dubbed the investigation “Varsity Blues,” worked with the mastermind behind the plot, William “Rick” Singer, to gather evidence on a number of parents before going public and pursuing charges.
While some — like actress Felicity Huffman, who was accused of spending $15,000 to have her daughter's SAT scores altered — pleaded guilty, Loughlin and Giannulli maintained their innocence prior to their acceptance of the plea deal. Ahead of their trial, which was slated to begin in October, more details regarding the case were made public, including the release of photos that show the couple’s daughters posing on row machines while wearing workout gear; those photos are believed to have been used to create fake online athletic profiles. Loughlin and Giannulli, meanwhile, accused prosecutors of misconduct and of withholding evidence, claims that prosecutors denied. Ultimately, the judge denied the couple's attempt to dismiss the case.
Once they enter their pleas, Loughlin and Giannulli will be the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case, according to the release.
“Under the plea agreements filed today, these defendants will serve prison terms reflecting their respective roles in a conspiracy to corrupt the college admissions process and which are consistent with prior sentences in this case,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said. “We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions.”
Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, are no longer enrolled at USC, the school confirmed last year. Both have been largely tight-lipped regarding the scandal, but Olivia Jade, who has a YouTube channel, briefly addressed her parent’s case last year but stated that she was focused on moving on.
“Obviously I’ve been gone for a really long time, and as much as I wish I could talk about all of this … it’s just, unfortunately … I’m legally not allowed to speak on anything going on right now,” she said, before adding later, “This is the best I can do and I want to move on with my life.”