BOSTON - “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, officially pleaded guilty Friday to charges in the college admissions bribery case under a deal that calls for both to spend time behind bars.
The couple pleaded guilty via video conference in front of a Boston federal court judge. Sentencing is scheduled for August 21, but Giannulli’s attorney, William Trach, asked for an earlier sentencing date.
As part of the plea deal, they avoid the uncertainty of facing a jury and a likely much harsher punishment if convicted at trial. If the judge approves the deal, Loughlin will serve two months in prison and Giannulli will serve five months.
Under Loughlin’s plea deal, she will also pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service. Giannulli has agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service.
“I think they made a calculated assessment that the risks were just too great,” said Bradley Simon, a former federal prosecutor now with the firm Windels Marx in New York.
For more than a year, the couple insisted they were innocent and accused investigators of fabricating evidence against them.
As part of the plea deal, Loughlin will serve two months in prison and Giannulli will serve five months.
Loughlin and Giannulli were among dozens of wealthy parents charged with paying hefty bribes to get their kids into elite universities with bogus test scores or fake athletic credentials.
The couple was scheduled to go to trial in October on charges that they got their two daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither girl was a rower. Prosecutors say they funneled money through a sham charity operated by college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme.
Loughlin and Giannulli had argued they believed their payments were legitimate donations to the school or Singer's charity and accused prosecutors of withholding evidence that would exonerate them. The judge earlier this month rejected the defense's bid to dismiss the case over allegations of misconduct by federal agents.
They are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case.
Others who have admitted to participating in the scheme include “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman and the heir to the Hot Pockets fortune, Michelle Janavs. Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison and Janavs was sentenced to five months.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.