The college admissions scam involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman shows how some rich families use a “side door” to game an already unfair education system.
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Lori Loughlin plans to fight the charges against her in the college-admissions bribery case.
On Monday, the “Full House” actress and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, filed federal court documents saying they plan to waive their right to appear in court for an arraignment and plead not guilty. (Their arraignment dates have not been set.)
Last week, Loughlin, Giannulli and other parents charged in the cheating scheme were indicted on an additional felony count of money laundering, on top of the mail fraud and honest services fraud charges they were charged with last month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.
Several others of the indicted parents also have entered not-guilty pleas, indicating they plan to challenge the government’s case against them at trial.
Their decisions are not a surprise given that they had so far resisted prosecutors’ efforts to pump up the pressure on them to agree to plea negotiations.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to coaches so that their non-athlete daughters could be designated as crew recruits, easing their admission to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
The couple has not commented publicly on the charges.
But their decision to plead not guilty is in contrast to that of actress Felicity Huffman and a dozen other parents who last week agreed to plead guilty, avoiding the additional charge of money laundering and the possibility of conviction at a trial.
Huffman issued a statement of contrition after her agreement to plead guilty, saying she was “ashamed” of her actions and apologizing to her daughter and to other students and their parents who might have been denied a spot at USC.
Huffman and the other parents who are pleading guilty have not had their sentencing hearings, but prosecutors have indicated in proposed plea agreements they plan to demand at least some prison time for them.
Huffman was accused of paying $15,000 to a fake charity as a means to arrange for a test monitor to correct her elder daughter’s SAT college entrance exam to inflate her score.
Loughlin, Giannulli and other parents made their first court appearances in the case, along with Huffman, in Boston on April 3, to something of a circus atmosphere outside the federal courthouse. Both supporters and detractors were there chanting her name, or mockingly asking her to pay their college tuition.
The documents filed Monday allows them to avoid another public appearance like that.
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