Words by Sam Kimbley
Lori Loughlin, known best for her role in Full House, has been sentenced to two months in jail, including 100 hours of community service and a $150,000 fine (£112,351), for her role in the US college admissions scandal, pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also given a five-month prison term. The fraudulent scheme was organised by William Rick Singer, who would be paid to get wealthy parents’ children into prestigious universities including Yale.
Lori Laughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli paid William Rick Singer $500,000 to pass both their daughters off as rowing crew recruits to the college admissions board at University of Southern California. This involved bribing officials within the athletics department at the university and taking pictures of their daughters on rowing machines to make them appear to be real athletes.
Fifty people were originally charged by officials in March 2019 after the FBI’s operation codenamed “Operation Varsity Blues” investigated crimes wealthy parents committed to cheating the college system.
Mr Singer used two primary methods to get these students into these colleges, the first, was allowing them to cheat on the entrance exams and the second was to provide fake sporting credentials to persuade admissions offices to admit these students. Mr Singer was able to charge between $200,000 to $6.5 million ($149800 – $4868531) which were paid to Singers non-profit; which meant that he was able to avoid federal taxes and the parents could deduct the costs from their taxes.
Not only has this investigation exposed fraud committed by the wealthy elite, but it also brought up flaws within the USC application process. USC had approached Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin prior to the scandal, as they were seen to be potential large donors. Loughlin and Giannulli’s lawyers said that universities “solicit donations from the families of prospective students and that such donations can have a material effect on admissions decisions.” This frame of thinking was their lawyers’ argument that they believed their money was only going towards donations for USC.
Loughlin along with other high-profile names such as actress Felicity Huffman who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud will now be spending time in jail. Judge Nathaniel Gorton described the crimes as “breathtaking fraud” stating that there was “no excuse” for the fraud committed before sentencing Giannulli.