A federal judge on Friday sentenced actress Lori Loughlin to two months in prison in connection with charges that she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimi Giannulli, paid bribes to help get their daughters accepted to college as fake rowing recruits.
The couple is among the highest-profile parents who have been charged in connection to the sweeping college admissions and bribery scandal known as “Varsity Blues.
Loughlin, the former “Full House” actress, had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. The judge on Friday accepted her plea deal with federal prosecutors, which in addition to the two-month prison sentence also includes a $150,000 fine, two years of supervised release, and 100 hours of community service.
Loughlin, who has not spoken publicly since being charged in the case, said in brief, tearful remarks at the virtual sentencing hearing that she was “truly profoundly and deeply sorry.”
“I made an awful decision. I went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage in the college admissions process,” she said. “I now understand that my decision helped exacerbate existing inequalities in society generally and the higher education system more specifically.”
Loughlin’s lawyer argued that the two-month sentence was justified, arguing that she was the least culpable of any of the dozens of parents charged in the admissions cheating scheme but had become the public face most identified with the scandal.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton admonished Loughlin during the hearing, calling her an “admired, successful professional actor” who enjoyed a “fairy tale life.”
“Yet you stand before me a convicted felon, and for what? For the inexplicable desire to grasp even more,” he said. “To have whatever prestige and instant gratification that comes from being able to show off the admission of your daughters to a preferred university.”
Gorton said Loughlin had “participated in the corruption of the system of higher education in this country.”
Loughlin’s husband, Giannulli, was accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to facilitate his children's acceptance to the University of Southern California. He earlier this year pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, as well as honest services wire and mail fraud.
The same judge on Friday also accepted Giannulli's plea deal with federal prosecutors, sentencing him to five months in prison. Giannulli also faces two years of supervised release, must pay a $250,000 fine and must perform 250 hours of community.
Giannulli spoke briefly during his sentencing hearing, which was held virtually earlier on Friday. He said he regretted his actions and took “full responsibility” for his conduct.
“You helped sponsor a breathtaking fraud on our system of education and involved your wife and your two daughters in cheating and faking their ways into a prestigious university,” Gorton said during the hearing.
The judge added that the prison sentence, in addition to being a punishment, was meant “to dissuade and deter anyone else in your position who thinks that, because they have enough money to buy anything they want, they can flout the law and buy their kids entry into college.”
The judge ordered both Laughlin and Giannulli to report for prison by Nov. 19.