Holdouts in college admissions scandal slapped with money laundering and fraud charges as prosecutors ramp up ‘plea pressure’
15 parents originally charged in “Operation Varsity Blues,” including former “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, on Tuesday were indicted on charges of money laundering and fraud conspiracy, the LA Times reports, citing federal prosecutors.
Monday, 13 parents originally charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud announced they would plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, and prosecutors said they’ll “recommend sentences ranging from a few months to a year and a half in prison for each individual,” the Times reported. That group includes former “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, who issued a lengthy apology while announcing her plea agreement.
“I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” Huffman said in a statement, calling her actions “misguided and profoundly wrong.”
The actress also apologized to her daughter, family, friends, colleges and “the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.”
“My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty,” Huffman said.
For parents who have thus far refused to strike a plea, the new charges represent an increase in pressure from prosecutors. UC Hastings Law professor Rory Little told the Times that charging the remaining parents with money laundering is an example of “plea pressure” because it can be applied in most cases where money is exchanged. Little called the move “aggressive.”
“There’s a side to this that’s kind of unseemly,” the former federal prosecutor said. “They’re playing very, very aggressively here. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it’s aggressive.”