Lori Loughlin pleads guilty in US admissions case

Actor and fashion designer husband accept months in prison over fraud in daughters’ USC admissions

May 21, 2020
Andrew E Lelling, US attorney in Massachusetts
Source: Paul Basken
Andrew E Lelling, US attorney in Massachusetts

The highest-profile defendants in the US college admissions scandal, actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, have agreed to plead guilty and accept months-long prison terms.

Loughlin and Giannulli were charged with fraudulently helping their two daughters gain admission to the University of Southern California as athletic recruits.

In their agreement with prosecutors, subject to court approval, Loughlin will serve two months in prison, while Giannulli, described as more directly involved with the fraud, will serve five months.

The couple had long been seen as determined to fight the charges while other wealthy parents ensnared in the case accepted plea deals. They include another actor, Felicity Huffman, who received a jail sentence of just 14 days and served only 11.

Loughlin and Giannulli “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”, the federal prosecutor leading the case, Andrew Lelling, said in a statement.

Mr Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts, first announced the charges in March 2019 against more than 50 people accused of bribery and deception to win student admissions to institutions that include USC, Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest and Georgetown universities.

The institutions and the students were not implicated as knowing participants, although several of their sports coaches were indicted on charges of helping applicants by pretending that they wanted the students on their teams.

The fraud allegedly was orchestrated by William Singer, the head of a college admissions consulting business in the Los Angeles area, who began helping prosecutors build their case after they discovered his activities.

In addition to working with sports coaches, Singer allegedly helped some families by using their bribe payments to hire experts who took admissions tests on behalf of their students or corrected their answers.

The admissions by Loughlin and Giannulli bring the number of guilty pleas to 35, including 24 parents, from the 53 people charged by Mr Lelling in the admissions scandal. Prison sentences have generally ranged from a few weeks to a few months.

In addition to their prison terms, Loughlin agreed to a $150,000 (£120,000) fine and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service, while Giannulli accepted a $250,000 fine and two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.

paul.basken@timeshighereducation.com

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