New Bribery Charges Up the Ante in College Admissions Case

Lori Loughlin depart federal court with her husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, left, on Aug. 27, 2019, in Boston, after a hearing in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. (AP Photo/Philip Marcelo)

BOSTON (CN) – “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and 10 other defendants in the college admissions scandal must face federal bribery charges now with the filing of a third superseding indictment Tuesday afternoon.

The group, which includes Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were initially charged in a much larger group swept up as part of the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues. For the past several months, prosecutors have been racking up guilty pleas from other parents, college coaches and school admissions officials who admit they were part of a conspiracy to get wealthy children admitted into top-flight colleges that their transcripts might not otherwise permit. For some students, this meant SAT score tampering, while others were fraudulently labeled student-athletes, a class typically held to a less rigorous academic standard.

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters labeled as recruits for the University of Southern California crew team. The 11 parents facing the new charges all attempted to get their children into USC.

The parents were originally facing conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges.

“Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman was among the parents that pleaded guilty. Those who pleaded not guilty found themselves facing additional money laundering charges within a week after submitting their plea.

Huffman was sentenced on Sept. 13 to 14 days in prison, a year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine. She entered prison on Oct. 15.

Just weeks after Huffman became the first parent to be sentenced in the case, the government submitted a second superseding indictment.

The defendants, all of whom were arrested in March 2019, were previously charged with conspiring with William “Rick” Singer and others, to bribe SAT and ACT exam administrators to allow a test taker to secretly take college entrance exams in place of their children, or to correct the children’s answers after they had taken the exams.

The defendants’ money-laundering charges come from Singer’s scheme to convert bribes and other payments by funneling them through his 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.

The defendants’ next hearing will take place in January 2020.

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