Lori Loughlin’s legal troubles just keep growing. She and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are among about a dozen parents slapped with bribery charges resulting from their participation in the college admissions fraud scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues. Loughlin and Giannulli already face charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
The latest charge handed down by the grand jury is a conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and stems from the original case against the two celebrity parents – allegedly they forked over $500,000 to ensure that their two daughters were admitted to their school of choice, University of Southern California (USC). The federal programs described in the new charge refer to organizations like USC that receive $10,000 or more from the federal government, including in research grants. This charge can add a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, plus fines and probation.
“The new charges in the third superseding indictment allege that 11 defendants – Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Mossimo Giannulli, Elisabeth Kimmell, Lori Loughlin, William McGlashan, Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh, and Robert Zangrillo – conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission,” a press release from United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling reads. “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.”
New details are being reported of the coordination in August 2016 between Rick Singer, the college admissions fixer, and Loughlin and Giannulli to guarantee the two girls’ would be granted admission into USC. You may remember that the narrative for the two daughters, included that they were interested in being members of USC’s crew team. Neither girl is an athlete.
Singer wrote that “he needed a copy of their older daughter’s transcript and test scores ‘very soon while I create a coxswain [rower] portfolio for her. It would probably help to get a picture of her on an ERG in workout clothes like a real athlete too,’” according to the court documents unveiled Tuesday.
Loughlin and her husband are accused of shelling out $500,000 in bribes to Singer, who had a network of illicit cohorts, to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California by passing the teens off as crew athletes. Neither of the girls had ever rowed.
Giannulli responded, “Fantastic. Will get all,” the papers state.
The next spring, in March 2017, Singer’s accountant then “emailed a $200,000 invoice to Giannulli and Loughlin. The invoice thanked Giannulli and Loughlin for their pledge to KWF and further stated that their ‘private contribution’ of $200,000 was now due,” court papers show, referring to Singer’s straw “non-profit,” the Key Worldwide Foundation.
After that exchange was completed, Singer asked if Giannulli was interested in doing the same for the younger daughter in order for her to also be accepted by USC and he excitedly answered in the affirmative. ‘Yes USC for [our younger daughter]!’” the documents said.
The new bribery claim from the office of the U.S Attorney for Massachusetts can add an additional 10 years of jail time. The trial is expected to be held next year. This brings the potential sentencing to 50 years in prison and around $1.23 million in fines each. Though prosecutors have repeatedly warned that they will have the book thrown at them if they insist on going to trial instead of taking a plea deal, no one expects the maximum sentencing will be handed down to them.
“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.”
Wednesday the final parent from the first group of parents prosecuted in the Operation Varsity Blues round-up will be sentenced. All of them took plea deals and they have a different judge than Loughlin and Giannulli will have. Jane Buckingham, author of “The Modern Girls Guide to Motherhood”, is due in court in Boston for her sentencing. Prosecutors have recommended six months in prison and a $40,000 fine.
Neither of Loughlin’s daughters is enrolled at USC now.