Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in the sprawling college-admissions scandal, according to the Department of Justice. The couple was indicted for their alleged scheme to gain their two children admission into the University of Southern California as supposed athletic recruits.
The Los Angeles-based couple maintained their innocence in the case for more than a year, even as federal officials added new charges and indictments. But federal authorities now say Loughlin, 55, has agreed to admit to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while Giannulli, 56, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.
Dozens of parents were charged with federal crimes in a widespread plot to game their children into elite universities. Prosecutors have said that Loughlin and others falsely designated their kids as crew recruits, paying the scheme’s ringleader, William “Rick” Singer, about $500,000. Neither teen had ever rowed crew. Singer pleaded guilty to multiple charges in March of last year after admitting he accepted more than $25 million in bribes from desperate parents.
Loughlin’s plea agreement, which is pending approval by a federal judge, includes two months in prison, a $150,000 fine, two years of supervised release, and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli’s plea agreement involves five months in prison, a $250,000 fine, two years of supervised release, and 250 hours of community service. They would be the 23rd and 24th parents to admit guilt in the historic cheating and bribery scandal.
In her plea agreement, Loughlin’s attorneys wrote that she “expressly and unequivocally admits that she committed that crime, did so knowingly and intentionally, and is in fact guilty of that offense.” In return, the court has agreed to dismiss other counts in her case following her sentencing.
Giannulli’s agreement separately stipulates the same tradeoff.
The federal investigation, called Operation Varsity Blues by the FBI, nabbed nearly 50 arrests last March and involved the University of Texas, Wake Forest University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other elite schools. Several defendants, including Emmy Award-winning actress Felicity Huffman, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison time, fines, and probation over the past year. Huffman was sentenced to just two weeks in prison in September after she admitted in Boston federal court to paying a Harvard graduate $15,000 to correct her daughter’s answers on the SAT, securing a significant bump on her results.
“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,” said United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, in a statement on Thursday. “We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions.”