BOSTON (CBSLA) – Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli are pleading guilty to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to get their children admitted to USC as athletic recruits as part of the nationwide college admissions scandal, federal authorities announced Thursday.
The 55-year-old Loughlin will plead guilty in Boston federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while 56-year-old Giannulli will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts reported.
Loughlin has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors that would see her serve two months in prison, pay a $150,000 fine, with two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service.
Under his plea deal, Giannulli would serve five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine, with two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.
Both deal must be approved by a judge. Their court hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Pacific time Friday by video conference since the couple live in Los Angeles. It’s also unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will effect how they serve out their terms.
The two had been set to go on trial in October on allegations they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters admitted to USC as members of the rowing team, even though neither had ever rowed crew.
Earlier this month, a judge refused to dismiss the charges over the defense’s claims of misconduct by FBI agents.
Over the past several months, prosecutors had continued putting pressure on the Loughlin and Giannulli to plead guilty. In February, federal prosecutors released a copy of a phony resume for the couple’s daughter, Olivia Jade, which purports to list her fake achievements in the sport of rowing. In January, prosecutors released a trove of emails and call recording logs between Giannulli, Loughlin and Newport Beach businessman Rick Singer, the mastermind of the college scandal. The emails revealed how USC was trying to court one of the daughters — even as prosecutors said the couple was plotting to get her admitted as a fake rower.
“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 in a statement. “We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions.”
In March of 2019 the FBI charged 50 people — including 35 parents and nine coaches — in a massive bribery scheme dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” in which wealthy families paid millions to Singer to help their children cheat on standardized tests and bribe test administrators and college coaches to help get their kids into top universities like UCLA, USC, Yale, Stanford and Georgetown.
So far, 24 parents, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman — who served a 14-day sentence in October — have pleaded or agreed to plead guilty in the scandal.