Loughlin, Giannulli plead not guilty in college scam
By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are pleading not guilty to charges they took part in the sweeping college admissions bribery scam, according to court documents filed Monday.
The couple is accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though neither is a rower.
They were among 50 people charged last month in the scandal that has embroiled elite school across the country, including Stanford, Georgetown and Yale.
Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli haven’t publicly addressed the allegations against them.
Loughlin and Giannulli waived their right to appear for their arraignment in Boston federal court and plead not guilty to the two charges against them, their lawyers said in court documents. The judge granted their requests not to appear.
Thirty-three wealthy parents were charged in what authorities have called the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. They are accused of paying admissions consultant Rick Singer to rig standardized test scores and bribe college coaches and other insiders to get their children into selective schools.
Authorities say Loughlin and Giannulli helped create fake athletic profiles for their daughters by sending Singer photos of their teens posing on rowing machines. After their older daughter was admitted to USC, authorities say Giannulli, whose Mossimo clothing had long been a Target brand until recently, sent Singer an email with the subject line “Trojan happiness,” thanking him for his “efforts and end result!”
Their daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli — a social media star who has a popular YouTube channel — was dropped from deals with cosmetics retailer Sephora and hair products company TRESemme after her parents’ arrest.
Prosecutors added a money laundering conspiracy charge against Loughlin, Giannulli and more than a dozen other parents who are still fighting the case, increasing the pressure on them to plead guilty.
Several other parents who were indicted alongside Loughlin and Giannulli last week have also filed court documents entering not guilty pleas.
Each of the charges Loughlin and Giannulli face call for up to 20 years in prison, although first-time offenders would get only a small fraction of that if convicted.
Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and 12 other parents announced last week that they have agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman is scheduled to appear in Boston on May 21 to enter her plea.
Prosecutors have said they will seek a prison sentence on the low end of four to 10 months for Huffman, who was charged with paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT score.
On Friday, a former Florida prep school administrator pleaded guilty to taking entrance exams for students, or correcting their answers, as part of the scam. Prosecutors have said they will seek between 33 to 41 months in prison for Mark Riddell, a Harvard graduate oversaw college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy.
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