Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are expected to stand trial starting October 5 on charges related to the college admissions scam, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts said.
They will stand trial alongside six other parents charged in the scam: Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh and Robert Zangrillo, the spokesperson said. Jury selection will start September 28.
Loughlin, the actress best known as Aunt Becky from “Full House,” and Giannulli, the fashion designer, have both been charged with three counts of conspiracy: conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery; and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 as part of a scheme with Rick Singer and a University of Southern California athletics official to get their two daughters into the university as members of the crew team, even though they did not participate in crew. As part of the scheme, the parents sent Singer photos of their daughters on an ergometer, a rowing machine, according to the criminal complaint.
Singer pitched this scheme to clients as the “side door” of getting into college — easier than the “front door” of getting good grades and high test scores, but cheaper than the “back door” of donating millions for a building on campus.
Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughters were accepted under these false pretenses, prosecutors have said, although they are no longer enrolled at the school.
Prosecutors say the $500,000 — including $100,000 to former USC athletics official Donna Heinel and $400,000 to Singer’s fake charity — constituted illegal bribes.Heinel has pleaded not guilty and repeatedly has declined to comment. Singer has pleaded guilty to several charges and is cooperating with the prosecution in the case.
But attorneys for Loughlin and Giannulli have argued that the money was part of a legitimate practice in which universities “regularly solicit donations from the families of prospective students” that can impact the students’ chances of admission. They have also accused prosecutors of withholding evidence that they say exonerates their clients.
In a recently released filing, for example, defense attorneys highlighted notes that Singer wrote on his iPhone in which he said prosecutors were asking him to tell a “fib” to his clients.
“They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where their money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment,” the highly redacted notes in Singer’s phone accompanying the motion said.