Actress Lori Loughlin apologises for college scam, sentenced to two months in prison

Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, leave court in April 2019.
Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, leave court in April 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON (REUTERS) – Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were sentenced on Friday (Aug 21) to respective prison terms of two months and five months for participating in a vast US college admissions scam.

Loughlin, 56, choked up as she apologised to US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston for the “awful decision” she made to try to help her daughters gain an “unfair advantage” in the college admissions process.

She and her husband were sentenced after they pleaded guilty in May to engaging in a fraud scheme aimed at securing spots for their daughters at the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.

“I am truly and profoundly and deeply sorry,” Loughlin said.

Their sentences were consistent with the terms of their plea deals. Gorton also ordered Loughlin, 56, and Giannulli, 57, to pay respective fines of US$150,000 (S$200,000) and US$250,000 and complete 100 and 250 hours of community service.

The two are among 55 people charged in a scheme masterminded by consultant William “Rick” Singer, who has admitted to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of children to schools under the guise of being sought-after athletes.

Prosecutors said Loughlin and Giannulli conspired with Singer to fabricate parts of their daughters’ applications for admission to USC so they could be admitted as fake rowing team recruits.

Prosecutors said Giannulli, the “more active” parent in the scheme, also paid US$500,000 in purported “donations” as a quid pro quo to induce a USC employee to facilitate the recruitment of daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli.

“This kind of behaviour is not just overzealous parenting,”Assistant US Attorney Kristen Kearney said during Giannulli’s sentencing.

“It is criminal and deserving of the proposed five-month sentence.”

Defence lawyer Sean Berkowitz said Giannulli, who never attended college, ignored “red flags” about Singer, who he turned to for advice in navigating the admissions process, believing he was not a “felon, a huckster or fraud.”