TV actress Lori Loughlin was sentenced Friday to two months behind bars — hours after her husband was handed a five-month term — for paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to USC as crew team recruits, even though neither girl played the sport.
Loughlin was also ordered to pay a $150,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton ordered the “Full House” star to self-surrender at a federal prison on Nov. 19 to begin serving her sentence.
The Boston federal court hearings took place over Zoom, with the actress’ husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, appearing first. Along with his prison term, he was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.
Loughlin told the court that she had “made an awful decision. I went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage in the college admissions process.”
In his summation, Gorton told Loughlin that she is “an admired, successful, professional actor … a fairytale life and now you stand before me a convicted felon.”
The judge said “we can only hope that you will spend the rest of your charmed life, as you have said you will, making amends to the system you have harmed.”
The couple were accused of paying half a million dollars in bribes to the admitted mastermind of the scheme, college admissions counselor Rick Singer, to get their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli, accepted into USC as crew recruits.
After a year of insisting on their innocence, the 56-year-old actress pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while her husband pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.
As part of the scheme, they sent fake crew recruiting profiles to Singer that included bogus credentials, medals and photos of one of their daughters on a rowing machine. Neither daughter is now enrolled at USC.
Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum that the couple “involved both their daughters in the fraud, directing them to pose in staged photographs for use in fake athletic profiles and instructing one daughter how to conceal the scheme from her high school counselor.”
According to the memo, evidence shows that Giannulli, 57, was the more active participant in the scheme.
“He engaged more frequently with Singer, directed the bribe payments to USC and Singer, and personally confronted his daughter’s high school counselor to prevent the scheme from being discovered, brazenly lying about his daughter’s athletic abilities,” federal prosecutors wrote. “Loughlin took a less active role, but was nonetheless fully complicit, eagerly enlisting Singer a second time for her younger daughter, and coaching her daughter not to `say too much’ to her high school’s legitimate college counselor, lest he catch on to their fraud.”
More than 50 people have been charged in the probe, which investigators dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” Of 38 parents charged, 26 have pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from the two weeks given to “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman to a nine-month term imposed on Doug Hodge, former head of a Newport Beach-based bond management firm.
Huffman was released Oct. 25 from a low-security federal prison camp in Northern California 11 days into a 14-day sentence for paying to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers on a college-entrance exam.