CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – At first, being the face of a national scandal seemed to slide down Lori Loughlin's glamorous back.
In charge of conspiring to take her daughters to college for fraud, she maintained her innocence, signed autographs on the way to the court, and shook hands with prosecutors as if she were attending a meeting in Hollywood.
But as the months went by, she got darker. Gossip magazines reported that she was concerned that she was facing a long period of imprisonment and that she regretted not receiving an advance order.
On Thursday, prosecutors announced that Loughlin, the actress who was one of the most famous people accused in the country's biggest college admission charge, agreed to plead guilty to plotting to have her daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as a recruit crew. Her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer, also agreed to plead guilty to crimes, prosecutors said.
The deal represented a victory for prosecutors and, as the case continues, it laid a kind of cornerstone in a scandal that exposed how far wealthy parents would go to take their children to college. The case, which involved cheating in the college entrance exams and bribery of coaches, increased scrutiny of the admission process and contributed to a wave of promises of change, including some schools that no longer require students to take the SAT.
At the same time, the announcement of Loughlin's request highlighted how much the world had changed since his arrest and that of dozens of other parents and coaches more than a year ago. Now, many colleges are struggling to survive, and students are wondering when they will be able to return to campuses that were abruptly emptied this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. A dozen parents are still battling the charges in the case of admissions. The first trial of the case is scheduled for October, but it is not clear how the process will be given the virus.
Under the terms of the deal, who still needs the approval of a judge, Loughlin, 55, will serve two months in prison and Giannulli, 56, will serve five months. Sentences imposed on other parents convicted in the case ranged from nine to nine months in prison.
Loughlin would also pay a $ 150,000 fine and do 100 hours of community service, while Giannulli would pay a $ 250,000 fine and do 250 hours of community service. Giannulli's longest sentence under the plea agreement may reflect that he appeared to be more involved in the scheme, according to emails quoted by prosecutors.
A lawyer for Loughlin and Giannulli declined to comment.
Prosecutors accused Loughlin and Giannulli of paying $ 500,000 for their two daughters to be assigned as recruits to the U.S. crew team to secure admission to the school, although none of the daughters participated in the sport. Prosecutors said Loughlin and Giannulli worked with a college consultant, William Singer, whom prosecutors described as the mentor of the admissions scheme and who pleaded guilty to extortion and other charges.
Under the agreement, Loughlin would plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit electronic and mail fraud, prosecutors said, and Giannulli would plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit electronic and mail fraud and honest services. fraud. Under the agreement, additional charges – from conspiracy to money laundering and conspiracy to commit bribes from federal programs – would be dropped.
Loughlin was one of two Hollywood actresses arrested for admissions, in which more than 50 people were indicted. The other actress, Felicity Huffman, who was accused of paying Mr. Singer to increase her daughter's SAT score, she followed a different route than Mrs. Loughlin, agreeing to plead guilty within a month after her arrest and publicly expressing remorse. A judge sentenced her to 14 days in prisonand she finally served 11 days in minimal security federal prison camp in the San Francisco Bay area.
As a result of her early guilt charge, Huffman was able to leave the case behind and enjoyed relatively forgiving media coverage, with the United States attorney behind the case praising her saying that she handled her claim “in a way very elegant way. "At the same time, prosecutors increased the pressure on Loughlin.
At the an interview In October, at WCVB, an affiliate of ABC in Boston, Andrew E. Lelling, the attorney for the District of Massachusetts in the United States, warned that his office would ask for a longer sentence if Loughlin went to trial and was convicted than he had alleged. guilty.
"If she is convicted, I think I will not tell her state secrets saying that we would probably ask for a higher sentence for her than for Felicity Huffman," said Lelling.
Loughlin, who is best known for playing Aunt Becky in the 90s comedy "Full House", also lost her job as an actress. The Hallmark Channel, where she participated in a television program and series of films, said immediately after her arrest last year that it wouldn't work anymore with her. After his arrest, she didn't appear in the final season of "Fuller House", a reboot of Netflix in which she played a recurring role.
It was not known whether the timing of Loughlin's guilty plea – during a pandemic – could affect his sentence. The virus spread rapidly in some prisons and this affected cases, including the college admission process. Two parents in the case were released from prison earlier because of the pandemic, while other parents had their postponement dates postponed.
While all of the parents accused in the case were subject to public scorn, Loughlin and his daughters were often appointed. It didn't help that, before her parents' arrest, Giannulli, a social media influencer, had posted a video in which she acknowledged that she didn't care about school and was going to college just for "Party days, parties".
Giannulli and his sister, Isabella, were registered in the USA. when the charges were announced, Olivia Jade as a freshman and Isabella as a sophomore. USA said in October that the two women were no longer enrolled, although it was not clear whether they had been dismissed or allowed to withdraw. USA had previously said it was investigating nearly three dozen students for admission violations in connection with the scandal.
Sarah Mervosh contributed reporting from Canton, Ohio.