UPDATE, 8:39 AM: As more and more parents in the sprawling college admissions scandal are cutting deals with federal prosecutors for reduced sentences, Lori Loughlin is digging in for a fight as the former Full House star faces decades behind bars.
Hit with new bribery charges late last month, Loughlin and her fashion designed husband Mossimo Giannulli announced today in court filings that they plan to plead not guilty. That is the same plea the once high flying couple have already made to previous charges of two charges of fraud and money laundering. Caught shelling out $500,000 through a phony foundation, Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli were indicted in March along with over 30 other well-heeled parents for illegal efforts they made to get their kids into top tier schools with false credentials and inflated test scores.
Both of the couple’s daughters have since left USC in the spotlight of the scandal.
Likely to go to trial in federal court in Boston in the spring of next year, the once Hallmark Channel regular and Giannulli are mounting a joint defense. That’s a rare and risky proposition that could hobble the duo if things get sticky and one party starts wanting to angle for an agreement with the government and another doesn’t, to put it mildly.
Currently, with the new charge that was made public on October 22, Loughlin and her spouse are facing around 50 years in prison and millions in fine if found guilty. The couple have decided not be present at the upcoming November 20 arraignment but could appear at the now additionally scheduled January 17 status conference in what is clearly a case where neither side look inclined to back down.
On the flip side, Felicity Huffman quietly slipped out of a federal prison late last week after serving around 11 days of her 14-day sentence in the ongoing probe.
PREVIOUSLY, OCT. 22 PM: Felicity Huffman is halfway through her prison sentence for her role in the nationwide college bribery scheme, but Lori Loughlin could be looking at a lot longer stretch if found guilty for getting her daughters into USC under false pretenses.
Having plead not guilty this spring to various federal charges from “Operation Varsity Blues,” the former Fuller House star and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are now facing a new bribery claim from the office of the U.S Attorney for Massachusetts. A new charge that potentially adds a decade more behind bars to the couple if found guilty at the trial expected next year.
In total, Loughlin and Giannulli are staring down the long road of 50 years in prison and around $1.23 million in fines each. As new of the scandal broke and has grown over the past several months, both of the duo’s daughters have left USC – the high-profile school their parents apparently played fast and loose with the law to get them into.
“Today’s charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling Tuesday after the new indictment (read it here) against the once high-flying couple, STX founder Bill McGlashan, Jr and eight other deep pocketed parents was made public. “Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort.”
To be specific, with no new arraignment date set yet, the 11 parents are charged in the third indictment with conspiring “to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission. In exchange for the bribes, employees of the university allegedly designated the defendants’ children as athletic recruits – with little or no regard for their athletic abilities – or as members of other favored admissions categories.”
None of which sounds good, clearly. To that end, lawyers for Loughlin and Giannulli did not respond to request for comment on the new charges today.
Having formally plead not guilty in mid-April after turning down a government deal, Loughlin and Giannulli are accused in the well-heeled suspects probe of paying “bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” according to the 200-page indictment made public March 12.
Currently out on $1 million dollar bail bond, Loughlin and her fashion designer spouse were hit hard with an additional money laundering charge on April 9 after they rejected the feds’ offer of reduced charges and sentencing recommendations.
In a local TV interview earlier this month, Lelling hinted things were about to get ever tighter for Loughlin and Giannulli. “If it is after trial, we would ask for something substantially higher,” declared the federal prosecutor to Boston’s WCVB of what kind of sentence the couple could face and making a comparison to the 14 days in a cell that American Crime star Huffman received in early September.
Long having entered a guilty plea and thrown herself on the court’s mercy Huffman reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, CA on October 15. “If she resolved it before trial, something lower than that,” Lelling told the anchors of Loughlin and Giannulli’s chances if they made a deal instead of a taking the case to a jury.
Like Huffman, the still battling Loughlin and her husband are among the most high-profile cases in the more than 30 parents indicted in the nationwide effort of wealthy families to get their children into top schools using underhanded methods and the services of ex-call center manager William Singer and his phony Key Worldwide Foundation.
In fact, today’s superseding indictment draws a profile that leaves little to the imagination. even as the feds close in.
“On or about November 29, 2018, Singer called LOUGHLIN from Boston, Massachusetts,” the 61-page filing says. “During the call, Singer said, in sum and substance, that KWF was being audited by the IRS, which was asking about the two payments of $200,000 by the GIANNULLIS. Singer added: “So I just want to make sure that you know that, one, that you’re probably going to get a call and that I have not told them anything about the girls going through the side door, through crew, even though they didn’t do crew to get into USC. So I-that is-all I told them was that you guys made a donation to our foundation to help underserved kids.” LOUGHLIN replied, “Um-hrrnn.’”
Late this summer, Loughlin and Giannulli convinced a weary federal judge to agree to their potentially disastrous desire to share the same defense team. With that, the duo’s attorneys will next be back in federal court in Boston for a January 17, 2020 status conference.
As the things stand right now, the now newly indicted couple are not expected nor required to be in attendance.
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