Lori Loughlin, husband agree to serve jail time in college bribery scandal lawsuit

Full House actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to serve prison time as part of a plea deal in the college admissions bribery case, according to court papers filed Thursday.

Loughlin has agreed to serve two months behind bars, and Giannulli has agreed to serve five months under the deal, which must be approved by the judge.

The couple is scheduled to plead guilty on Friday via videoconference.

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Loughlin and Giannulli were scheduled to go to trial in October on charges alleging they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California (USC) as crew team recruits, even though neither of them participated in the sport.

They had insisted they were innocent and said they believed their payments were legitimate donations.

Earlier this month, the judge rejected their bid to dismiss the case over allegations of misconduct by FBI agents investigating the scam.

Loughlin and Giannulli agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in a plea agreement filed in Boston’s federal court.

Prosecutors have agreed to dismiss charges of money laundering and federal programs bribery that were added after the case was filed.

“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 Lelling said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions.”

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Loughlin and Giannulli are among dozens of wealthy parents who were charged with participating in schemes organized by college admissions consultant William (Rick) Singer to bribe coaches and university insiders or cheat on entrance exams. The cases are being prosecuted in federal court in Boston.

Previously released documents show how Loughlin and Giannulli interacted with Singer and how the alleged scam worked for both of their daughters.

Multiple detailed emails show how Loughlin and Giannulli worked with Singer and his associates to create the fake athletic profiles for their daughters, who were pretending to be part of the rowing team, to get into USC.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric S. Rosen wrote that the couple “specifically rejected this ‘legitimate’ approach” and pointed to emails exchanged between Giannulli and an official in USC’s development office, the New York Times reported.

The official, whose name was redacted in the documents, offered to “flag” the 2016 application by the fashion designer’s older daughter and asked if they could “be at all helpful in setting up a 1:1 opportunity for her, customized tour of campus for the family, and/or classroom visit.”

“Thanks so much, I think we are squared away,” Giannulli told the official.

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He went on to forward the exchange to Loughlin and wrote: “The nicest I’ve been at blowing off somebody.”

Prosecutors alleged that Giannulli had already been conspiring with Singer to pass their daughter off as an elite coxswain for the crew team.

An email from Singer to Giannulli had asked for “a picture with her on an ERG (rowing machine) in workout clothes like a real athlete.” Six days before the USC official’s email, Singer had said in an email to Giannulli: “Got it all. Profile is being made as a coxswain and USC is awaiting my packet with the transcript, test scores and profile.”

In one of the email exchanges, Singer asked for a different photo of the older Giannulli daughter for her falsified profile after he sent the original photo to the USC athletic department’s former third-ranking administrator, Donna Heinel.

The prosecution alleged Heinel soon after presented the couple’s daughter as a recruited coxswain to a USC admissions committee that approved her “based on falsified athletic credentials.”

Prosecutors said Giannulli and Loughlin wrote a $50,000 cheque to a USC account controlled by Heinel and wired $200,000 to Singer.

Giannulli and Loughlin were accused of repeating the same process a year later for their younger daughter to get into USC.

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Heinel was arrested a year later and charged with scheming to sneak unqualified students into the university.

She has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering, fraud and bribery, and her lawyer declined to comment on the latest filing.

Singer has pleaded guilty and agreed to work with investigators in hopes of receiving a more lenient sentence.

Others who have pleaded guilty in the case include Desperate Housewives actor Felicity Huffman. She served nearly two weeks in prison late last year after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s entrance exam answers.

Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli, are no longer enrolled at USC following the college admissions scandal.

⁠— With files from the Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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