Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli were among 16 parents charged with conspiring to commit fraud by transferring money from outside the U.S. for the purpose of laundering their bribe payments to college consultant Rick Singer.
Loughlin and her husband have entered a plea of not guilty in the college admissions scandal. The not guilty pleas were contained in papers filed in Boston federal court Monday, April 15.
In indictments unsealed last week, the couple and 14 other parents face two new charges: fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
This new charge alone calls for a maximum of 20 years in prison, in addition to the maximum 20 years associated with their previous charges. It was reported earlier that the couple could face a minimum of two years in prison for the original charges.
The parents, including Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, “were charged today in Boston in a second superseding indictment with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to use bribery to cheat on college entrance exams and to facilitate their children’s admission to selective colleges and universities as purported athletic recruits,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston announced.
Prosecutors said the second superseding indictment also charges the defendants with conspiring to launder bribes and other payments in connection with the fraud, by funneling them through Singer’s purported charity and his for-profit corporation, as well as by transferring money into the United States, from outside the country, for the purpose of promoting the fraud scheme.
Under the usual procedures, the next step for these 16 parents will be to appear at an arraignment where they will enter a plea or guilty or not guilty. Then a trial date would be set by the court.
The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, plus hefty fines. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and heftier fines.
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to bribe USC’s crew coach, which reportedly raises the minimum sentence in a plea deal to a range of two to two and a half years, according to TMZ.
Sources told the news outlet that prosecutors have given all the defendants an ultimatum: reach a plea deal quickly or face a federal grand jury with additional charges, including money laundering.
Felicity Huffman and 12 other parents took a plea deal on Monday, with prosecutors recommending between four to 10 months in prison for the Desperate Housewives alum. However, Huffman still reserves the right to argue that the range should be zero to six months. The details will reportedly be worked out during sentencing, as the judge will have the ultimate say following the prosecutors’ initial recommendations.
Prosecutors also demand that Huffman pay a fine of $20,000, restitution as well as one year of probation.
In a statement, Huffman accepted responsibility and apologized.
“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office. I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” Huffman said in her statement. “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community.”