Sentences were handed down Friday to Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli for their roles in the college admissions scandal — and while addressing the court, the Full House actress TV watchers know as Aunt Becky admitted she made an “awful decision.”
The actress faced Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton — via teleconference — to receive her sentence for her involvement in the widespread scam; it saw her and husband plead guilty to paying $500,000 to college admissions fixer William “Rick” Singer to get their YouTube star daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli, into the University of Southern California as fake crew recruits.
Gorton agreed to the sentence the prosecutors recommended for Loughlin: five months in prison, a $250,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and two years of supervised release. Loughlin had faced a total of 50 years before she made the deal.
Loughlin has 90 days to report to prisons, by Nov. 19. Her attorney said they hope she’s assigned to Victorville prison, a medium-security facility, in Victorville, Calif.
Loughlin wore white for the proceedings and addressed the court, admitting, “I made an awful decision. I went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage in the college admissions process. In doing so, I ignored my intuition and allowed myself to be swayed from my moral compass.”
Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin, pictured last year, are being sentenced Friday, virtually, in the college admissions scandal. (Photo: AP Foto/Steven Senne, Archivo)
Loughlin said she thought she was “acting out of love for my children but in reality, it only undermined and diminished my daughters’ abilities and accomplishments.”
But “more importantly,” she said understands “that my decision helped exacerbate existing inequalities in society generally and the higher education system more specifically.” Getting tearful, Loughlin said, “That realization weighs heavily on me and while I wish I could go back and do things differently, I can only take responsibility and move forward.”
Loughlin, taking pauses as she spoke to fight back emotion, ended by saying she believes in “redemption” and will do “everything in my power to redeem myself” and to “give back for the rest of my life.”
When sentencing her, the judge said her statement sounded “sincerely made,” but he marveled at how she lived a “fairytale life” — with a successful acting career, long-lasting marriage, two “resilient children” and “more money than you could need” — yet “you stand in front of me a convicted felon. For what? For the inexplicable desire to grasp even more.”
Gorton ended by saying he hopes she spends “the rest of your charmed life making amends for the system you have harmed.”
When her attorneys spoke earlier, they acknowledged that Loughlin broke the law but spent a long time talking about how unfair it was that she became the face of the scandal, as the most famous person involved. They said it’s had “devastating effects” and she “lost the acting career she spent 40 years building,” listing the companies that fired her amid the scandal. However, prosecutors were very quick to say that Loughlin was “fully complicit” in the scam, saying she was “not following the lead of her husband,” whose involvement was deeper, or being led astray by Singer.
Loughlin’s attorneys also spoke about the pain her daughters have gone through amid the scandal, saying they were bullied and Loughlin had to hire security to protect them. They also spoke of how the girls had to leave USC while other kids whose parents were involved in the scandal continued attending their schools.
Lori Loughlin her daughters Isabella Rose Giannulli and Olivia Jade Giannulli. (Photo: Getty Images)
Earlier in the day, Gorton also sentenced Giannulli. Similarly, he followed the government recommended sentence of five months in prison, a $250,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and two years of supervised release, as Giannulli had a larger role in the scheme than his wife.
Giannulli, who also had faced up to 50 years in prison on the various charges, must also report to prison within 90 days. The judge mentioned Lompoc, a low-security men’s prison northwest of Los Angeles, where the couple resides.
While sentencing Giannulli, Gorton said, “You have plead guilty and now stand convicted motivated by hubris — and that is defined as ‘wanton arrogance resulting from excessive pride.’ That is not something in which I usually am concerned when I have to sentence someone in this courtroom. I see lots of drug dealers, gun runners and people who committed violent crimes who have grown up without role models, sometimes having been abused themselves and living in squalid conditions and did not know better. That’s not so with you, Mr. Giannulli,” who, he said, “did know better.”
He said Giannulli was part of a “breathtaking fraud on our system of education involved your wife and two daughters in cheating and faking their ways into a prestigious university. You were not stealing bread to feed your family. You have no excuse for your crime.”
Giannulli spoke briefly saying, “I deeply regret the harm that my actions have caused my daughters, my wife and others,” coming off as emotional as he spoke. “I take full responsibility for my conduct. I’m ready to accept the consequences and move forward with the lessons I learned from this experience.”
Earlier, prosecutors talked about Giannulli’s “complete disregard for right and wrong” and allowing “his daughters to become complicit” in the scam by getting them to lie about being coxswain, getting them to pose for fake rowing photos and copying them on emails about the crimes. They spoke about his privilege and entitlement as he stormed into his daughter’s high school guidance counselor’s office to intimidate the counselor, who had become suspicious.
When Giannulli’s attorney spoke, it was a lot about the Target designer’s modest upbringing and saying his “top priority is his children.” Calling him a “good man who made terrible mistakes,” he said Giannulli wanted his daughters to get into good schools and noted they had good grades and test scores outside of the scandal. The attorney also spoke of the infamous staged rowing photos which showed the girls posing on ERG machines to look like real crew members, acknowledging that Giannulli was the one who snapped the photos.
The attorney said “Moss” deeply regrets “bringing his wife into the scheme” as well as his daughters.
Leading up to the sentencing, Yahoo Entertainment spoke with multiple attorneys about the sentences they thought the couples would receive. Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Silva Megerditchian said she thought the judge would follow the prosecutor’s lead — and he did to a tee.
Megerditchian explained, “When you look at the sentencing of all the parents in the case, it’s on par with those.” Calling it a “reasonable suggestion from prosecutors,” who had a “hard-fought battle” with Loughlin and Giannulli’s defense team. “So I think the judge will likely go with it.”
This story was originally published on Aug. 21, 2020, at 2:20 p.m. and has been updated.
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