Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
The Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that the couple will plead guilty at a yet-to-be-determined court date. Loughlin will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while Giannulli will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and to honest services wire and mail fraud.
If the judge accepts the terms of their plea agreement, both will do time in prison. Loughlin would serve two months and pay a $150,000 fine along with two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli, meanwhile, would serve five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine with two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.
They will become the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, which came to light last year and saw parents pay large sums to scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer to get their kids admitted to the school of their choice through various allegedly fraudulent means.
“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. We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions,” United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement.
Loughlin and Giannulli previously pleaded not guilty to expanded charges of bribery brought against them in October along with 11 other parents swept up in the scandal. The duo has been accused of arranging a total collective payment of $500,000 to Singer to get their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella, recruited to USC as athletes on the crew team, despite never having participated in the sport.
The charge of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The couple was previously hit with charges of money laundering and conspiracy that carried a potential sentence of 40 years if convicted on all of them.
Nearly two dozen parents have already pleaded guilty in the case, including former “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman. She served almost two weeks in prison after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s entrance exam answers.
The decision for the famous couple to plead guilty is in stark contrast to their legal defense from mere weeks ago. They previously asked U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton to dismiss charges against them after they believed they’d found potentially exonerating evidence.
In court documents previously obtained by Fox News, attorneys for the famous couple argued that the entire case should be thrown out after notes from Singer seemingly showed that agents had urged him to lie in order to implicate parents like Loughlin and Giannulli in committing a criminal act.
The couple’s defense also alleged that the prosecution was withholding this evidence for fear it was exonerating to their clients. However, Variety reported at the time that in a new April 8 court filing, the prosecution denied both that it acted in bad faith and that the evidence is at all exonerating.
“In a sprawling, fast-moving prosecution, the failure to produce the notes earlier was simply a mistake,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven E. Frank wrote at the time. “The defendants have suffered no prejudice, and their suggestion that the notes somehow ‘exonerate’ them, or reveal that the evidence against them was fabricated, is demonstrably false.”
In his notes, Singer wrote that investigators told him to lie to get parents to make incriminating statements over recorded phone calls. The agents instructed him to say he told the parents the payments were bribes, instead of donations, according to the notes made public in legal filings.
“They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where there money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment,” Singer wrote, according to court documents.
Gorton had called Singer’s claims in his notes “serious and disturbing.” However, he ultimately agreed with the prosecution’s assertion that it did not present ample grounds to dismiss the case. Therefore, he rejected the defense’s bid to toss the indictment earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.