Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli hit with additional money laundering charge

2019-04-10 07:42
 
Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli

Boston — Federal prosecutors added money laundering to the list of accusations against actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and 14 other prominent parents on Tuesday in the college admissions bribery case, increasing the pressure on them to plead guilty as other parents have agreed to do.

Loughlin, who starred in the sitcom Full House, and Giannulli are among 33 wealthy parents accused of participating in a scheme that involved rigging college entrance exams and bribing coaches at top universities. The new charges come a day after Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman, 12 other parents and a coach agreed to plead guilty.

READ MORE: Felicity Huffman agrees to plead guilty in college scam

The parents were arrested last month on a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. An indictment brought on Tuesday adds a charge of money laundering conspiracy against the couple and the 14 other parents.

According to TMZ, the new charges mean that if Lori and Mossimo opt to plea bargain their cases they no longer face a minimum of two years in prison, but rather a minimum range of 4 years and 9 months up to 5 years and 11 months.

Other parents indicted on the new charge on Tuesday include Michelle Janavs, whose family developed the microwave snack line Hot Pockets before selling their company, and William McGlashan, who co-founded an investment fund with U2's Bono in 2017.

McGlashan's attorney John Hueston said on Tuesday the case against him "is deeply flawed."

"We look forward to presenting his side of the story," Hueston said.

Messages seeking comment were left with representatives for Loughlin, Giannulli and Janavs.

LOOKING FOR A TOUGH JURIST

Attorneys for the parents charged in the indictment on Tuesday accused prosecutors of "judge shopping" to get their case in front of a tough jurist. In a letter to the chief judge of Boston's federal court, the lawyers said the parents shouldn't be added to an indictment that has already been assigned to Judge Nathaniel Gorton.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling shot back, calling the letter "inappropriate" and a "Hail Mary by people who know better."

"What counsel fail to say — but of course mean — is that they want a different judge because they perceive Judge Gorton as imposing longer sentences in criminal cases than other judges in the district; if this matter had been drawn to a judge viewed as more favorable to the defense, counsel would not have sent the letter," Lelling wrote in response.

This isn't the first time such a charge has popped up in the sweeping case. Amy and Gregory Colburn, a California couple accused of paying $25 000 to cheat on their son's SAT, were indicted last month on money laundering and mail fraud conspiracy charges.

The parents charged in the case are accused of paying an admissions consultant, Rick Singer, to cheat on their children's college entrance exams and get their children admitted as athletic recruits at schools including Georgetown and Yale. It's the largest such scheme ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $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.

They appeared in Boston federal court briefly last week and were not asked to enter a plea.

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