One 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, was sentenced on Friday.
Actress Lori Loughlin‘s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was sentenced to 5 months in prison by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton for the charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and to honest services wire and mail fraud. The sentence is in line with the terms of Giannulli’s plea deal that was laid out months ago.
Giannulli’s sentence includes a $250,000 fine and 250 hours of community service. Judge Gorton announced in the hearing on Friday 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, which is is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
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.
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.”
“He works to be a good role model for his children,” Berkowitz said, before explaining how Giannulli’s correspondence with scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer began.
Berkowitz said: “When Moss was introduced to Singer, he was presented as a reputable college counselor. It wasn’t until April 2016 that Singer first suggested the side door that you’ve heard about. Never did Singer suggest they cheat on tests and both daughters scores well and got into several colleges successfully. When Singer suggested side door Moss made some bad decisions and even took photos of his kids. He understands what he has done is wrong.”
Berkowitz added that Giannulli “regrets deeply bringing his wife [Lori Loughlin] into the scheme.”
He added that attention from the scandal has led to the couple’s daughters, Isabella and Olivia Jade to be “bullied on social media.”
Giannulli’s sentence comes after 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 Singer to get their daughters 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 in 2019 for similar crimes.
Giannulli pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and to honest services wire and mail fraud, while Loughlin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
In his plea agreement, Giannulli agreed to serve five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine along with two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service. Loughlin, meanwhile, agreed to serve two months and pay a $150,000 fine with two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. A judge will make a ruling on Loughlin’s case later on Friday.
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 previously 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.