US actress Lori Loughlin, husband to plead guilty in college scam

Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli agree to serve prison time as part of plea deal in a college admissions bribery case.

    Cast member Lori Loughlin poses at the premiere for the Netflix TV series Fuller House at The Grove in Los Angeles, US, February 16, 2016 [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]
    Cast member Lori Loughlin poses at the premiere for the Netflix TV series Fuller House at The Grove in Los Angeles, US, February 16, 2016 [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

    US actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to serve prison time as part of a plea deal in the college admissions bribery case, according to court papers filed on Thursday.

    Loughlin, best known for her role on the US sitcom Full House, has agreed to serve two months behind bars and Giannulli has agreed to serve five months under the deal that must be approved by the judge. They are scheduled to plead guilty on Friday via video conference.

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    Loughlin and Giannulli were scheduled to go to trial in October on charges that they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits, even though neither of them played the sport.

    The celebrity couple had insisted they were innocent and said they believed their payments were legitimate donations. Earlier this month, the judge rejected their bid to dismiss the case over allegations of misconduct by FBI agents investigating the scam.

    They agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in a plea agreement filed in Boston, Massachusetts's federal court. Prosecutors have agreed to dismiss charges of money laundering and federal programmes bribery that were added after the case was filed.

    "Under the plea agreements filed today, these defendants will serve prison terms reflecting their respective roles in a conspiracy to corrupt the college admissions process and which are consistent with prior sentences in this case," US Attorney Andrew Lelling said in an emailed statement. "We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions."

    A lawyer for the couple declined to comment.

    Loughlin and Giannulli were among 50 people arrested last year in the case dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues" that rocked the world of higher education. They are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case.

    The case uncovered a scheme in which wealthy parents paid huge sums to secure students' admission at elite schools as fake athletic recruits or have someone cheat on their entrance exams, authorities said.

    Others who have pleaded guilty in the case include Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman. She served nearly two weeks in prison late last year after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter's entrance exam answers.

    SOURCE: AP news agency