“Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are among 11 of the 15 parents linked to the college admissions scandal to be slapped with additional charges, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The new charges in the third superseding indictment alleged that the 11 defendants bribed employees at the University of Southern California (USC) to help their children gain admission to the school. In exchange for the alleged bribes, employees of the university were said to have “designated the defendants’ children as athletic recruits – with little or no regard for their athletic abilities – or as members of other favored admissions categories,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts.
The new charges brought against the parents – Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Giannulli, Elisabeth Kimmell, Loughlin, William McGlashan, Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh, and Robert Zangrillo – all of whom were arrested in March as the scandal first began to unravel, were part of an “ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement.
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“Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort,” he said.
The charges announced Tuesday were on top of conspiracy charges brought against 15 parents by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston earlier this year.
Prosecutors alleged the wealthy parents conspired with the mastermind behind the scheme, William “Rick” Singer, 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.
In addition, the parents allegedly funneled $25 million in bribes through Singer’s charities, for-profit corporations and even bank accounts abroad, in efforts to conceal the cash flow and give their children advantages to admissions at prestigious universities.
Singer has been a cooperating government witness and has pleaded guilty in the case.
The federal court announced an additional conspiracy count and two counts of substantive federal program bribery against Wilson of Lynnfield, Mass., a 59-year-old investor who allegedly paid Singer $1 million to secure his twin daughters acceptance into Harvard and Stanford Universities based on their fake athletic prowess. A previous indictment against Wilson alleged he paid Singer $220,000 to get his son into USC and onto the school’s water polo team in 2014. He and the 10 other parents who have pleaded not guilty would face hefty jail sentences if convicted.
Meantime, defendants Joey Chen, McGlashan, Wilson and Zangrillo were hit with various counts of wire fraud as prosecutors said they also falsified standardized test scores.
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Perhaps the most famous of the defendants, Loughlin and Giannulli previously were charged with paying $500,000 for their two daughters to get into elite universities. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering and would face maximum jail sentences of 40 years in prison.
“Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman and 21 other parents, coaches, administrators and test-takers have pleaded guilty in the nationwide college admission scandal. Huffman has been serving out her 14-day prison sentence.