LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli pleaded guilty Friday in the nationwide college admissions scandal to paying a half-million dollars in bribes to get their daughters admitted to USC as athletic recruits.
The two, who are in Los Angeles, entered guilty pleas virtually via Zoom video before a federal judge in Boston.
“Guilty,” Loughlin and Giannulli each said when asked by the court clerk how they want to plea, CBS Boston reports.
“No one has forced me to plead guilty your honor,” Loughlin told the judge.
The judge is set to sentence the couple on Aug. 21, when he will also decide whether to formally accept their pleas, CBS Boston reported. It’s unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will effect how they serve out their terms.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors announced that the couple had reached plea deals in the case.
The 55-year-old Loughlin pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while 56-year-old Giannulli pled 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 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.
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.