BOSTON (Reuters) – Actress Lori Loughlin on Monday entered a not guilty plea to charges that she participated in a wide-ranging college admissions scam by paying bribes to get her two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California.
Loughlin, who starred in the television sitcom “Full House,” and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli filed papers in federal court in Boston waiving their personal appearances at an arraignment hearing and asking to have not guilty pleas entered on their behalf.
They are among 50 people accused of participating in a massive scheme that allowed wealthy parents to use cheating and $25 million in bribes to help their children secure spots at well-known universities like Yale, Georgetown and USC.
California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer pleaded guilty in March to charges that helped parents facilitate cheating on college entrance exams and bribed coaches at universities to falsely present their children as athletic recruits.
Prosecutors allege that Loughlin, 54, and Giannulli agreed with Singer to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters named as recruits to USC’s crew team, even though they did not row competitively, to help them gain admission.
Loughlin and Giannulli provided Singer photographs of their daughters in order to create fake athletic profiles for them, which a USC athletics official in exchange for bribes then used to support recruiting them, prosecutors said.
The couple and several other parents were originally charged in March with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Prosecutors secured an indictment on April 9 that included an additional charge of conspiring to commit money laundering.
Several other parents charged alongside Loughlin and Giannulli also filed papers seeking to waive appearing at an arraignment and have not guilty pleas entered for them. A federal magistrate judge granted their requests on Monday.
In all, 33 parents have been charged in the college admissions scandal. Of those, 13 have agreed to plead guilty, including “Desperate Housewives” TV star Felicity Huffman. She is scheduled to plead guilty on May 21.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Tom Brown