Lori Loughlin, husband plead not guilty in college admissions scandal
LOS ANGELES — Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband pleaded not guilty Monday to charges against them in the far-reaching college admissions scandal.
Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California in an athletic recruiting scam.
The not guilty pleas were contained in papers filed in Boston federal court Monday.
In indictments unsealed last week, the couple and 14 other parents face two new charges: fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
Loughlin’s move comes as some other parents — including actress Felicity Huffman — have announced they will plead guilty to the charges.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of shelling out half a million dollars to get their daughters into USC. The couple saw being a coxswain on the rowing team as their daughters’ tickets into the private college, which boasts an admissions rate of 13%, even though they had never competed in the sport, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
They began discussing the plot with William “Rick” Singer in April 2016 after they met with the college counselor of their older daughter, Isabella, according to the affidavit.
“I’d like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan and make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to (our daughter) and getting her into a school other than ASU!” Giannulli allegedly wrote to Singer.
Singer told the couple that Isabella’s academic qualifications were “at or just below the low end of USC’s admission,” according to the affidavit. Authorities allege the couple agreed to bribe USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, who also was charged in the scheme, to designate their daughter as an athletic recruit on the crew team.
After their older daughter’s admission was secured, they repeated the scam in 2017 with their younger daughter, Olivia Jade, authorities allege. Singer allegedly told the couple he would present their daughter as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team and requested they send an “action picture.” The couple sent him a photo of Olivia Jade rowing on a machine, according to the affidavit.
Huffman will be sentenced in the coming weeks.
Manny Medrano, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said that based on 2019 federal sentencing guidelines, Huffman likely will face four to 10 months in prison as part of her plea.
Her sentencing recommendation is low because she has no criminal history and because the amount of money involved is relatively small, Medrano said.