Two of the highest-profile defendants in the college admissions scandal, which exposed the rich and famous paying big bucks on cheating scams to get their kids into the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities, were sentenced on Friday.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were sentenced to 2 and 5 months respectively by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. The sentences are in line with the terms of their plea deal that was laid out months ago.
The sentences put an end to more than a year of legal battles in which the famous couple initially pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from $500,000 in payments made to scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer to get their daughters, Isabella and Olivia Jade, recruited to the University of Southern California on the crew team despite never actually participating in the sport.
In May, the duo shocked many when they changed course and agreed to plead guilty like their fellow celebrity counterpart in the scandal, Felicity Huffman. The “Desperate Housewives” actress served 11 days of a planned two-week sentence for similar crimes.
In their plea agreement, Loughlin, 56, agreed to serve two months and pay a $150,000 fine along with two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli, meanwhile, would serve five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine with two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.
Meanwhile, in Giannulli’s hearing on Friday, Judge Gorton announced that he believed the sentence is “sufficient but not greater than necessary under the circumstance.”
The fashion designer, who is 57, appeared in a Massachusetts federal court virtually via Zoom from what appeared to be a conference room in Los Angeles, Calif. He wore a dark suit, a light pink shirt, and a dark purple tie. His hearing took place just hours before Loughlin’s.
Following Gorton’s acceptance of his plea deal, Giannulli addressed the court.
“I do deeply regret, as [attorney] Sean [Berkowitz] said, the harm that my actions have caused my daughters, my wife, and others. I take full responsibility for my conduct, I’m ready to accept consequences and move forward with the lessons I’ve learned from this experience,” Loughlin’s husband said.
Giannulli has 60 days to pay the fine. He will report to a facility that has yet to be determined on November 19 before 2 p.m.
Gorton delivered a scorching speech to denounce Giannnulli’s crimes. He informed the fashion designer that he belongs in jail to dissuade others in his position who believe they have enough money to buy whatever they want.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Kearney spoke to Giannulli’s sentence, calling the five months he will serve “appropriate.” Kearney dubbed Giannulli’s crime more than “just overzealous parenting.”
“It is criminal and desiring of the 5 months imprisonment,” Kearney said.
Berkowitz also spoke to Giannulli’s actions, calling his celebrity client “humble.”
Berkowitz added that Giannulli “regrets deeply bringing his wife [Lori Loughlin] into the scheme,” and said the attention garnered from the scandal has led to the couple’s daughters, Isabella and Olivia Jade, to be “bullied on social media.”
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling agreed to the terms of the plea, outlining Giannulli’s expanded role in the scandal compared to the “Fuller House” actress in his sentence recommendation that was obtained by Fox News.
“The crime Giannulli and Loughlin committed was serious. Over the course of two years, they engaged twice in Singer’s fraudulent scheme. They involved both their daughters in the fraud, directing them to pose in staged photographs for use in fake athletic profiles and instructing one daughter how to conceal the scheme from her high school counselor. As between the defendants, the evidence suggests that Giannulli was the more active participant in the scheme,” Lelling wrote. “He engaged more frequently with Singer, directed the bribe payments to USC and Singer, and personally confronted his daughter’s high school counselor to prevent the scheme from being discovered, brazenly lying about his daughter’s athletic abilities.”
He added: “Loughlin took a less active role, but was nonetheless fully complicit, eagerly enlisting Singer a second time for her younger daughter, and coaching her daughter not to ‘say too much’ to her high school’s legitimate college counselor, lest he catch on to their fraud.”
Loughlin and Giannulli had previously pleaded not guilty to expanded charges of bribery brought against them in October along with 11 other parents swept up in the scandal.
The charge of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The couple was also hit with charges of money laundering and conspiracy that carried a potential sentence of 40 years if convicted on all of them.
Fox News’ Melissa Roberto contributed to this report