“Full House” actress Lori Loughlin must serve two months in prison and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, must serve five months for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as rowing recruits, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton accepted Loughlin’s plea deal with prosecutors in a hearing held via videconference after sentencing her husband in an earlier hearing.
In the first display of remorse either of them have made publicly over the fraud, Giannulli told the judge he “deeply” regrets the harm that his actions have caused his daughters, wife and others.
“I take full responsibility for my conduct. I am ready to accept the consequences and move forward with the lessons I’ve learned from this experience,” Giannulli said in a short statement.
In accepting the plea deals, Gorton said the prison terms are “sufficient but not greater than necessary punishment under the circumstances.”
Gorton scolded Giannulli for what he described as “breathtaking fraud.”
“You were not stealing bread to feed your family. You have no excuse for your crime and that makes it all the more blameworthy,” the judge told Giannulli before officially sentencing him.
Giannulli was ordered to surrender Nov. 19.
Under the plea deal, Giannulli will also pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service. Loughlin will pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service.
The famous couple’s sentencing comes three months after they reversed course and admitted to participating in the college admissions cheating scheme.
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 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.
Their about-face came shortly after the judge rejected their bid to dismiss the case over allegations of misconduct by federal agents.
Loughlin gained fame for her role as 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.”
Before Friday, the couple had not made any public statements since their arrest and — unlike every other parent sentenced so far in the case — they did not submit letters expressing regret or notes of support from family and friends to the judge by the deadline, although Gorton said he received two letters in support of Loughlin the day of the sentencing.
Prosecutors said Giannulli deserves 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 to get their two daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither was a rower, authorities said.
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.
When the counselor began questioning their crew credentials, Giannulli angrily confronted him and asked why he was “trying to ruin or get in the way of their opportunities,” the counselor wrote in notes detailed in court documents.
Among the high-profile parents who have been sent to prison for participating in the scam is “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman.
She served nearly two weeks behind bars late last year after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s entrance exam answers.
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