Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were each sentenced to time in prison on Friday due to their involvement in the college admissions scandal. Giannulli was sentenced to five months and Loughlin was sentenced to two months, both of which were in line with their plea deals. In addition to prison time, Giannulli was also fined $250,000 (£190,000) and required to complete 250 hours of community service, while Loughlin faced a $150,000 (£115,000) fine and 100 hours of community service. They will also each receive two years of supervised release.
The couple pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy charges, Loughlin for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and Giannulli for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud. Loughlin and Giannulli originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, but took a plea deal earlier this year to avoid taking the case to trial. As a result of the deal, federal prosecutors recommended two months and five months in federal prison, respectively.
Loughlin and Giannulli were implicated last year along with at least 55 other defendants facing charges in a college admissions scam involving parents conspiring to cheat on admissions exams and bribing university coaches and administrators. The couple allegedly paid William Rick Singer, the mastermind of the scandal, $500,000 (£380,000) to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as recruits for the rowing team, though neither Olivia Jade nor Isabella participated in the sport.
In a detention memo released Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of Massachusetts wrote that Gianulli would receive a higher sentence after engaging closely with Singer. He directed “the bribe payments to USC and Singer” and “personally confronted his daughter's high school counselor to prevent the scheme from being discovered,” Lelling wrote.
Though Loughlin took a less active role in the scam, she was “fully complicit, eagerly enlisting Singer a second time for her younger daughter, and coaching her daughter not to 'say too much' to her high school's legitimate college counselor,” the memo reads.
Other members of the so-called Operation Varsity Blues have already faced sentencing. Actress Felicity Huffman was charged with fraud conspiracy in the scandal after allegedly paying Singer to inflate her daughter’s standardised test scores. Huffman pleaded guilty in April 2019 and served 11 days of her two-week sentence in October. She has since released a statement apologising and expressing shame over her role in the scam.
Gregory Abott, founder and chairman of the International Dispensing Corporation, a food-packaging and research company, and Marcia Abott were also among parents charged in the scandal. Both pleaded guilty last year. Dozens of other CEOs of public and private companies and investment firms also pleaded guilty for their involvement in the scam, with parents accused of paying Singer a combined $25 million (£19 million) in bribes.
However, it seems now that prosecutors seek to take a strong stance against the more serious parents involved in the bribery scheme with heavier sentences. Loughlin and Giannulli have not yet commented on the sentence.