The U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts brought more charges this week against eleven parents who refused plea deals in the college admissions cheating scandal, including Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli.
Prosecutor Andrew Lelling added the new charge of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. Loughlin and Giannulli were already facing two other charges — conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The DOJ’s third superseding indictment (pdf) also set out more details about the government’s case against some of the holdout defendants.
Thirty-three defendants charged in the case have now pleaded guilty, including four more parents who entered guilty pleas on Monday. Seven parents have been sentenced. Six were ordered to spend time in prison, ranging from two weeks for actress Felicity Huffman to five months for California winemaker Agustin Huneeus.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying Rick Singer, the mastermind of the cheating scandal, $400,000 in exchange for his help getting their two daughters into USC as crew recruits. Neither daughter actually did crew.
Singer pleaded guilty earlier this year and is cooperating with prosecutors. He hasn’t been sentenced yet.
The charge added Tuesday against Loughlin and Giannulli is based on a federal law targeting bribes of $5,000 or more to organizations that receive at least $10,000 from the federal government, including universities that accept federal research grants.
Donna Heinel, the former senior associate athletic director at USC, has been charged in the case and pleaded not guilty.
According to the superseding indictment, in exchange for two payments from Giannulli of $50,000 each, Heinel “presented” Loughlin and Giannulli’s two daughters to the USC subcommittee for athletic admissions. They were admitted as crew recruits based on “falsified athletic credentials,” the indictment said.
Prosecutors allege that in April 2017 Giannulli forwarded to his accountant an invoice from Singer for $200,000. Giannulli wrote to the accountant: “Good news my [older] daughter . . . is in [U]SC . . . bad is I had to work the system.”
Loughlin and Giannulli face up to five years in prison if they’re convicted of the new bribery-related conspiracy charge.
The other two charges they face each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.