Lori Loughlin released from prison after college admissions scam

Loughlin had been sentenced for paying half a million dollars in bribes to secure her children spots at a top college.

Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli depart federal court in Boston in April 2019 after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal [File: Steven Senne/AP Photo]

Actor Lori Loughlin was released from prison on Monday after spending two months behind bars for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get her two daughters into college.

Loughlin was released from the federal lockup in Dublin, California, where she had been serving her sentence for her role in the college admissions bribery scheme, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said.

Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, is serving his five-month sentence at a prison in Lompoc near Santa Barbara, California.

Giannulli is scheduled to be released on April 17, according to the BOP. Prosecutors said Giannulli deserved a tougher sentence because he was “the more active participant in the scheme”.

Fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, leaves federal court in Boston, Massachusetts on April 3, 2019 [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Loughlin and Giannulli were among the highest-profile defendants charged in the scheme, which revealed the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to get their children into elite universities.

Authorities said parents funnelled bribes through a fake charity run by an admissions consultant to get their kids into top schools with fake athletic credentials or rigged test scores.

The famous couple admitted in May to paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower.

Actor Felicity Huffman served nearly two weeks in prison last year for paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SAT answers.

Their guilty plea was a stunning reversal for the couple, whose lawyers had insisted for a year were innocent and accused investigators of fabricating evidence against them.

The only public comments either Loughlin or Giannulli made about the case since their arrest last year came at their sentencing hearings in August.

Loughlin, who gained fame for her role as the wholesome Aunt Becky in the sitcom, Full House, told the judge her actions “helped exacerbate existing inequalities in society” and pledged to do everything in her power to use her experience as a “catalyst to do good”.

She previously said she acted out of love for her daughters.

Their younger daughter, social media influencer Olivia Jade, made her first public remarks about the scandal this month on the series, Red Table Talk. Olivia Jade said she does not want or deserve pity.

“We messed up. I just want a second chance to be like, ‘I recognise I messed up.’ And for so long, I wasn’t able to talk about this because of the legalities behind it,” she said.

Loughlin and Giannulli were both initially supposed to report to prison on November 19, but prosecutors and defence attorneys agreed Loughlin could start her sentence on October 30.

Loughlin also agreed that she would not seek early release on coronavirus-related grounds, prosecutors said.

Loughlin’s release drew criticism from some on social media, who compared her sentence with people of colour who faced longer sentences.

The US has seen demonstrations, sometimes violent, against racism in the criminal justice system since the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis Police custody in May.

The scheme was masterminded by consultant William “Rick” Singer, who has admitted to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure admission to elite schools.

Of the nearly 60 parents, coaches and others charged in the case, about a dozen are still fighting the allegations.

The sentences for the parents who have pleaded so far in the case range from a couple of weeks to nine months.

Source: News Agencies