By Stella Lorence
Actress Lori Loughlin was sentenced to 2 months in prison and a fine of $150,000 for her role in the college admissions scandal during a remote hearing through the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Friday.
The former “Full House” actress and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli pled guilty to conspiracy charges after they paid to have their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as rowing recruits. Neither daughter had rowed competitively before. Loughlin and Giannulli were both sentenced Friday by Judge Nathaniel Gorton.
Although the hearing was held remotely via zoom, audio and video recordings were still prohibited.
Giannulli was sentenced to five months in prison and a fine of $250,000 as part of a negotiated plea deal. He said in a statement to the court that he deeply regrets the effects his actions have had on his daughters and wife and accepts full responsibility for his crimes.
Gorton, who has sentenced six other people in the college admissions scandal, said each time he does, he is “more dumbfounded” than he was because the crimes are motivated by hubris. When sentencing Loughlin, he characterized her life as a “fairy tale” and told her she was now a convicted felon because she tried to grab more than she already had.
Loughlin’s defense attorney, William Trach argued that Loughlin’s involvement in the scheme was much more passive than that of her husband or any of the other parents who have been indicted in the scandal.
Government Prosecutor Kristen Kearney pointed to the fact that Giannulli twice participated in the scheme as evidence of his complete disregard for right and wrong. She said his interactions with his daughters’ high school counselor, in which he lied about their crew credentials, demonstrated a “privileged and entitled attitude for which prison is the only leveler.”
Both Loughlin and Giannulli’s defense attorneys gave the same account of the couple’s involvement in the scandal. Not having gone to college themselves, Loughlin and Giannulli approached the chair of the Board of Trustees at their daughters’ school to ask for advice on the admissions process and were referred to William “Rick” Singer, the leader of the broader college admissions scheme. Singer tutored both daughters for about a year, before approaching Giannulli in April of 2016 about his “side-door” scheme, in which the girls would gain admission through false athletic recruitment.
Since their parents’ indictments, both daughters have had to leave USC and have been bullied and harassed in-person and through social media.
Over 50 parents, coaches and other conspirators were charged in the nationwide, seven-year scandal, which was code-named “Varsity Blues” by the FBI.
Of those 50, 24 have been sentenced, including Loughlin and Giannulli. Sentences have ranged from a few weeks in prison up to nine months.
Singer, of Newport Beach, Calif., coordinated the college admissions schemes through two business fronts. One was a non-profit corporation called Key Worldwide Foundation, which Singer purported to be a charity. Parents paid Singer under the guise of tax-deductible donations to KWF and Singer used the money to bribe coaches to admit students as false athletic recruits.