A new memo from federal prosecutors claims that actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Gianulli knowingly involved their daughters in the scheme to bribe their way into college.
The memo, sent on Monday to the judge who will issue the couple’s sentence this week, revealed a previously unreported exchange with daughter Olivia Jade, 20, in which they encouraged her to lie to her high school’s college counselor.
It alleges Loughlin, 56, referred to the counselor as a ‘weasel’ who may try to ‘meddle’ and further cautioned her daughter ‘don’t say too much to that man’.
It adds the celebrity couple allowed their children to become ‘complicit in crime’ as they pushed Olivia Jade and her older sister Isabella Rose, 21, to pose in staged photographs that falsely made it appear like they were rowers to gain college admission.
In the memo, federal Prosecutors argued that Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Giannulli, 57, deserve prison time for cheating to get their daughters into the University of Southern California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin O’Connell urged a judge to stick to the terms of a plea agreement struck with the embattled couple in May and sentence Giannulli to five months in prison and Loughlin to two, the court documents show.
The pair had previously been facing up to 40 years behind bars each for paying Rick Singer, the scheme’s mastermind, $500,000 to pass Olivia Jade and Isabella off as rowing stars to USC officials when neither had ever been involved in the sport.
They were arrested in March 2019 along with 50 other parents including actress Felicity Huffman.
‘The crime Giannulli and Loughlin committed was serious,’ the prosecutors wrote.
‘Over the course of two years, they engaged twice in Singer’s fraudulent scheme. They involved both their daughters in the fraud, directing them to pose in staged photographs for use in fake athletic profiles and instructing one daughter how to conceal the scheme from her high school counselor.’
The bogus photographs in question were taken by Giannulli showing both their daughters on rowing machines so that they could be falsely claimed as crew recruits.
The memo also states that Olivia allegedly had a conversation with her parents before meeting the school counselor, in which her father called the man a ‘nosy b******d’.
The exchange took place in late 2017 after Olivia had secured admission to USC as a purported rower.
It claims she spoke to her parents about ‘how to avoid the possibility that a high school counselor would disrupt their scheme’ because he knew that she was not a rower.
Loughlin allegedly told Olivia to report that USC is her first choice, adding ‘but it might be a flag for the weasel to meddle’.
Prosecutors also argued Monday that Giannulli deserved a harsher sentence than his wife, because he played a more active role in the conspiracy, even ‘brazenly lying’ to one of his daughter’s school counselors about her athletic ability.
‘Loughlin took a less active role, but was nonetheless fully complicit, eagerly enlisting Singer a second time for her younger daughter, and coaching her daughter not to ‘say too much’ to her high school’s legitimate college counselor, lest he catch onto their fraud,’ the prosecutors wrote.
The memo claims that the counselor called out that the girls had been tagged as athletic recruits when they were not. He told USC that he ‘highly doubted she [Olivia] was involved in crew’ after she was accepted in 2017.
In that instance, Giannulli is said to have demanded the counselor to explain what he was telling USC about his daughters and asked them why he was ‘trying to ruin or get in the way of their opportunities’.
Ahead of their scheduled sentencing hearings Friday, the prosecution argued that the agreed sentences in the plea deal are consisted with those given to other defendants in the sprawling case, and also fairly reflect the seriousness of the charge – which can carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The famous couple pleaded guilty in May to paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into USC.
Yet, the defense had insisted for more than a year that they believed their payments were legitimate donations and accused prosecutors of hiding crucial evidence that could prove the couple´s innocence because it would undermine their case.
The judge said at their plea hearings that he would decide whether to accept or reject the deals after considering the presentencing report, a document that contains background on defendants and helps guide sentencing decisions.
Unlike most plea agreements, in which the judge remains free to decide the sentence, Loughlin and Giannulli’s were built into their deals so if the judge accepts the agreements, he cannot change the prison term.
Loughlin and Giannulli have not publicly commented since their arrest last year in the case authorities call ‘Operation Varsity Blues.’
The scheme, led by admissions consultant Rick Singer, involved including top businessmen, lawyers and others prominent parents paying huge sums to have people take entrance exams on behalf of their kids or get them into school as fake recruits, authorities said.
Under the plea deal, Giannulli has also agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service.
Loughlin would pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service.
Prosecutors say they funneled money through a sham charity operated by college admissions consultant Rick Singer to get their two daughters admitted to USC.
Singer, who has also pleaded guilty, began cooperating with investigators in September 2018 and secretly recorded his phone calls with parents to build the case against them.
After the couple successfully bribed their younger daughter´s way into USC, Singer forward them an email saying she was let in because of her ‘potential to make a significant contribution to the intercollegiate athletic program,’ prosecutors wrote.
Loughlin responded: ‘This is wonderful news! (high-five emoji),’ according to court filings.
Others parents who’ve been sent to prison for participating in the scam include ‘Desperate Housewives’ actress Felicity Huffman.
She served nearly two weeks behind bars late last year after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter´s entrance exam answers.