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Lori Loughlin and her husband plead not guilty in college admissions scandal

Richard Winton and Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer J. Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges against them in a sweeping college admissions scandal that's ensnared dozens of wealthy parents.

The couple did not appear in federal court in Boston on Monday, but instead waived their right to appear before a judge for an arraignment and entered their pleas through documents filed by their attorneys.

Last week, the couple and 14 other parents were indicted on charges of money laundering and fraud conspiracy. The day before the indictments were announced, 13 parents -- including actress Felicity Huffman -- and one coach agreed to plead guilty for their roles in the scheme.

Attorneys representing Loughlin and Giannulli did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Monday, and the couple have not spoken publicly about the charges. As other parents have opted to cut deals in a bid for leniency, Loughlin and Giannulli appear to be gearing up for more of a legal fight.

The two are accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits. Though neither is a rower, the parents saw being a coxswain as their daughters' tickets into the private college, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. USC boasts an admissions rate of 13%.

They began discussing the plot with William "Rick" Singer in April 2016 after they met with the college counselor of their older daughter, Isabella, according to the affidavit.

 

"I'd like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan and make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to (our daughter) and getting her into a school other than ASU!" Giannulli allegedly wrote to Singer.

Singer told the couple that Isabella's academic qualifications were "at or just below the low end of USC's admission," according to the affidavit.

Authorities allege the couple agreed to take advantage of what Singer called his "side door" into the university by bribing USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel to designate their daughter as an athletic recruit on the crew team. Heinel is also charged in the scheme and has pleaded not guilty.

The money that authorities say eventually made its way to college coaches involved in the scam was funneled through Singer's charity, whose stated mission was to help "underprivileged students." This allowed some of the parents to write off the bribes as donations on their taxes, authorities said.

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