Lori Loughlin and Husband Plead Not Guilty to Bribery Charge in College Admissions Scam

By Web Staff

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to a third charge related to the college admissions scam, according to court records.

Last month, Loughlin and Giannulli were charged with one count of bribery in a third superseding indictment. They already faced two conspiracy charges related to the sprawling scheme in which wealthy parents paid to cheat, bribe and lie to game the college admissions system for their children.

The new charge accuses Loughlin and Giannulli of bribing University of Southern California (USC) employees to get their daughters admitted. USC coaches and athletics officials allegedly designated the daughters as recruited athletes, easing their admission regardless of their athletic ability, prosecutors said.

Actress Lori Loughlin poses with her daugthers
Actress Lori Loughlin (C) poses with daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli (L) and Isabella Rose Giannulli at the 2019 “An Unforgettable Evening” in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Feb. 28, 2019. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The superseding indictment does not allege any new criminal behavior and is based on the same scheme prosecutors alleged in March.

Loughlin and her husband pleaded not guilty in April to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors say they paid $500,000 to a fake charity to get their daughters into USC, falsely designating them as crew recruits. They face up to 45 years in prison for those charges.

The additional bribery charge carries up to five years in prison. The charge of federal programs bribery is defined as a bribe of anything valued of at least $5,000 at an organization that receives more than $10,000 from the federal government, which includes USC and other universities implicated in the scandal.

In a Friday court filing, Loughlin and Giannulli also waived their appearance at the arraignment this month, meaning they will not have to appear in court.

Loughlin and Giannulli are among 11 parents who faced the additional bribery charge filed by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts. So far, six other parents in the case have also pleaded not guilty.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.

Prosecutors have charged 52 people with participating in a vast scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with a California college admissions consultant to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of their children to top schools.

William “Rick” Singer, the consultant, pleaded guilty in March to charges he facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and helped bribe sports coaches at universities to present his clients’ children as fake athletic recruits.

William "Rick" Singer
William “Rick” Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court in Boston after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on March 12, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

The 35 parents charged since March include “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who last week began serving a 14-day prison term after pleading guilty.

Prosecutors allege that Loughlin and Giannulli agreed with Singer to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters named as recruits to the USC crew team, even though they did not row competitively.

At an Aug. 27 hearing, William Trach, their attorney, argued that “zero evidence” existed to support the allegations, saying they believed they were providing legitimate donations to USC.

The new charges came a day after USC confirmed the couple’s daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli, were no longer enrolled at the school.

Lori and daughters
Actress Lori Loughlin (C), poses with her daughters Bella (L) and Olivia Jade at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Aug. 13, 2017. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Four other parents, including former Pimco Chief Executive Douglas Hodge and Hercules Capital Inc founder Manuel Henriquez, pleaded guilty on Monday after prosecutors agreed to not bring additional charges against them if they did so.

The CNN Wire and Reuters contributed to this report.