Actor Lori Loughlin reports to prison in college scam
BOSTON (AP) — “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin has reported to a federal prison in California to begin serving her two-month sentence for her role in the college admissions bribery scandal, authorities said Friday.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said Loughlin was being processed at the federal lockup in Dublin, California.
“The parties recently agreed that the defendant can report to prison on October 30, 2020, instead of on November 19, 2020. The defendant has further agreed that, during her two month sentence, she will not seek an early release from prison on COVID-related grounds,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Under the Bureau of Prisons’ coronavirus protocols, Loughlin will be screened and tested for COVID-19 and will be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
The low-security prison in Northern California houses 874 inmates and had two positive coronavirus cases among inmates, as of Friday morning, federal statistics show.
In August, Loughlin was sentenced to two months and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, got five months for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as rowing recruits.
Prosecutors said Giannulli didn’t report to prison with Loughlin on Friday.
Plea deals worked out with the celebrity couple call for Loughlin to pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service, and Giannulli to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service.
The famous couple’s sentencing came three months after they reversed course and admitted to participating in the college admissions cheating scheme that has laid bare the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to get their kids into elite universities.
They are among nearly 30 prominent parents to plead guilty in the case, which federal prosecutors dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” It uncovered hefty bribes to get undeserving kids into college with rigged test scores or fake athletic credentials.
Loughlin and Giannulli had insisted for more than a year that they believed their payments were “legitimate donations” and accused prosecutors of hiding crucial evidence that could prove the couple’s innocence because it would undermine their case.
The case shattered the clean image of Loughlin, who gained fame for her role as the wholesome Aunt Becky in the sitcom “Full House” that ran from the late 1980s to mid-1990s, and later became queen of the Hallmark channel with her holiday movies and the series “When Calls the Heart.”
Prosecutors said Giannulli deserved a tougher sentence because he was “the more active participant in the scheme,” while Loughlin “took a less active role, but was nonetheless fully complicit.”
The couple funneled money through a sham charity operated by Rick Singer — the admissions consultant at the center of the scheme — to get their two daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither was a rower, authorities said. Singer, who has also pleaded guilty, was expected to testify against them if they had gone to trial.
Investigators had recorded phone calls and emails showing the couple worked with Singer to get their daughters into USC with fake athletic profiles depicting them as star rowers. In one email, Singer told Loughlin and Giannulli he needed a picture of their older daughter on a rowing machine in workout clothes “like a real athlete.”
Prosecutors said the couple allowed the girls “to become complicit in crime,” instructing them to pose on rowing machines for photos and warning their younger daughter not too say too much to her high school counselor to avoid getting caught.
Among the other high-profile parents who have been sent to prison for participating in the scam is “Desperate Housewives” actor Felicity Huffman. She served nearly two weeks behind bars late last year in the same California prison after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s entrance exam answers.
Balsamo reported from Washington.