Loughlin, Giannulli plead in college scam, but await fate

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"Full House" star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded guilty Friday to paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as part of a college admissions bribery scheme, but a judge has not decided whether he'll accept their plea deals with prosecutors.

Under the proposed deals, Loughlin, 55, hopes to spend two months in prison and Giannulli, 56, is seeking to serve five months. But U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said Friday at the famous couple's video hearing that he will decide whether to accept or reject the plea deals after further consideration of the presentencing report.

The famous couple, who appeared on separate video screens, both sitting with a lawyer, made no comments during the hearing other than to answer the judge's questions.

They were among dozens of wealthy parents, athletic coaches and others charged last year in the bribery scheme. The parents paid hefty bribes to get their kids into elite universities with bogus test scores or fake athletic credentials, authorities said.

The couple have been scheduled to go to trial in October on charges that they got their two daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither girl was a rower. Prosecutors say they funneled money through a sham charity operated by college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme.

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Loughlin has also agreed to pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service. Giannulli has agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service.

Loughlin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Giannulli pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of money laundering and federal programs bribery that were added after the case was filed.

Loughlin and Giannulli had argued they believed their payments were legitimate donations to the school or Singer's charity and accused prosecutors of withholding evidence that would exonerate them. The judge this month r ejected the defense's bid to dismiss the case over allegations of misconduct by federal agents.

An attorney for the couple declined Thursday to comment.

They are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case.

Others who have admitted to participating in the scheme include "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, who paid $15,000 to have someone rig her daughter's entrance exam. Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison.


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