BOSTON (CBS) — Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli entered guilty pleas in the college admissions scandal after appearing virtually via Zoom video before a federal judge Friday. The couple reached a plea deal with the United States Attorney for Massachusetts Thursday and agreed to serve prison time.
“Guilty,” both Loughlin and Giannulli said when asked by the court clerk how they want to plea. They appeared in separate Zoom windows for the hearing, each accompanied by a lawyer.
Judge Nathaniel Gorton still has to decide whether to accept their guilty pleas. But he said he expects to sentence the couple on August 21.
The “Full House” star pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud while Giannulli pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud. The couple was accused of paying consultant Rick Singer $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as rowing recruits.
“No one has forced me to plead guilty your honor,” Loughlin said when asked by the judge if she was changing her plea by choice.
Loughlin will serve two months in prison, pay a $150,000 fine and have two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service. Giannulli will spend five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine and have two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.
The couple could have faced 20 years in prison under the conspiracy charges. The plea deal did not come as a surprise to legal experts.
“These two defendants were looking at possible double digits behind the wall, but at least five if convicted of bribery and money laundering, and that reality set in,” WBZ-TV legal analyst Harry Manion said.
They are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case. Actress Felicity Huffman struck a plea deal last year, saying she was “deeply ashamed” of her actions and served 11 days in prison.