Lori Loughlin and Other Parents Face New Charges in College Admissions Scandal

Nytimes

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22 October 2019 18:18

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday brought new bribery charges against the actress Lori Loughlin and 10 other parents who have pleaded not guilty in the college admissions case, signaling an effort to increase the potential consequences for parents who intend to fight the accusations.

In bringing the new charges against Ms. Loughlin and the other parents, prosecutors did not make any new allegations of misconduct. Even so, the new charge, conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, has the potential to lead to longer sentences if any of the parents are convicted.

Ms. Loughlin, the actress Felicity Huffman and 31 other parents were charged in March in a scheme to cheat on college entrance exams and bribe college coaches. From soon after they were arrested, Ms. Huffman and Ms. Loughlin’s paths as defendants have diverged.

Ms. Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli, designated as recruits to the women’s crew team at the University of Southern California even though they were not qualified, ensuring their admission. U.S.C. said in a statement from the registrar on Monday that the two were no longer enrolled; the statement declined to give any further information, citing student privacy laws.

Ms. Huffman, an Emmy winner for her role on “Desperate Housewives,” was among a group of roughly a dozen parents who pleaded guilty early on, and she was sentenced in September to 14 days in prison. Ms. Huffman, who acknowledged paying $15,000 to cheat on her daughter’s SAT, reported to a minimum-security prison outside of San Francisco on Oct. 15 and is scheduled to be released on Oct. 27.

Lawyers involved in the case said that prosecutors were disappointed with the sentences that a judge has given to Ms. Huffman and other parents who pleaded guilty, and that they brought the new charge in part in the hope of increasing sentences. The sentences have ranged from no prison time to five months in prison, and have all been less than what prosecutors have asked for.

Prosecutors had been warning defense lawyers for weeks that they planned to bring the new bribery charge. They had given some parents a deadline of Monday or a few days before to agree to plead guilty if they wanted to avoid having the charge added. Four parents took them up on the offer and pleaded guilty on Monday.

Federal programs bribery involves theft from or bribery of an agent of an organization that receives more than $10,000 in federal funds in any one-year period. The parents had previously been charged with money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud.

This developing story will be updated.

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NYTimes-Politics added by Barbara Bush

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