Actress Lori Loughlin was sentenced on Friday to two months in prison for her involvement in a college admissions cheating scam that allowed her two daughters to be admitted into the University of Southern California.
As previously stipulated in her plea deal, which U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton accepted, Loughlin must also spend two years on probation, pay a $150,000 fine and carry out 100 hours of community service.
“I made an awful decision. I went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage in the college admissions process, and in doing so, I ignored my intuition and allowed myself to be swayed from my moral compass,” Loughlin said during the sentencing hearing. “That realization weighed heavily on me. And while I wish I could go back and do things differently, I can only take responsibility and move forward. … I am ready to face the consequences and make amends.”
“You are now the eighth person that I have had to sentence in this college admissions scandal, and each time, I am more dumbfounded than the time before. Here you are an admired, successful professional actor with a long-lasting marriage, two apparently healthy and resilient children, more money than you could possibly need,” Gorton said. “Yet you stand before me a convicted felon. And for what? For the inexplicable desire to grasp even more, to have whatever prestige and instant gratification that comes from being able to show off the admission of your daughter to a preferred university.”
“To that end, you have participated in the corruption of the system of higher education in this country,” Gorton continued. “If we condone such criminal conduct, no matter who commits it, we undermine the fabric of our society.”
Earlier on Friday morning, Mossimo Giannulli, the fashion designer and Loughlin’s husband, was sentenced to five months in prison for his involvement in the scam. Giannulli must also serve two years on probation, pay a $250,000 fine and serve 250 hours of community service as part of his sentencing, which will begin on Nov. 19 before 2 p.m. ET.
In accepting Giannulli’s plea deal, Gorton said the prison sentence stipulated under the sentencing guidelines “is sufficient but not greater than necessary punishment under the circumstances.” Unlike most plea agreements where the judge is free to decide sentencing, Loughlin’s and Giannulli’s proposed prison terms were binding as long as the judge accepted the deals.
“I deeply regret the harm that my actions have caused my daughters, my wife and others,” Giannulli said in accepting the sentencing. “I take full responsibility for my conduct. I’m ready to accept the consequences and move forward.”
In handing down the sentencing, Gorton said Giannulli “has no excuse” for his crime.
“You are an informed, smart successful businessman. You certainly did know better, and you helped sponsor a breathtaking fraud on our system of higher education and involved your wife and two daughters in cheating and faking their ways into a prestigious university,” the judge said. “You are not stealing bread to feed your family. You have no excuse for your crime and that makes it all the more blameworthy.”
The couple was arrested last year after federal prosecutors said they had paid $500,000 in bribes to USC officials to get their two daughters admitted as recruits for the crew team, despite the fact that neither daughter had ever played the sport. After months of fighting the charges and maintaining their innocence, Giannulli and Loughin pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, respectively.
Last year, actress Felicity Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced as part of the college admissions scam, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” After pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, Huffman was given a 14-day prison sentence. She was given an early release after serving out 11 of her 14 days in prison.