Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli plead guilty in college admissions scam

Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli exit the Boston Federal Court house after a pre-trial hearing with Magistrate Judge Kelley at the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse in Boston on August 27, 2019.

Actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli formally pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Friday for their roles as two of the most famous names in the brazen college admissions scam.

The hearing occurred via teleconference before US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Massachusetts because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Yes, your honor," Loughlin told the judge when asked if she understood the proceedings.

Loughlin wore a dark green high-neck blouse and sat in front of a wooden armoire. Giannulli sported a graying beard and a dark suit. They appeared with their lawyers in separate rooms. Their answers to the court's questions about understanding their pleas were brief. They listened intently and displayed no emotion as the prosecution outlined their crimes.

Gorton asked Loughlin and Giannulli if they disagreed with the government's statement of facts. They both answered, "No, your honor."

Loughlin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and Giannulli pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.

Sentencing is set for August 21.

Giannulli's attorney, William Trach, had requested an earlier sentencing date, noting at one point the defendants sought "finality in this process."

After the couple formally entered their guilty pleas, Loughlin briefly closed her eyes and appeared to take a deep breath.

The couple had moved to dismiss the charges as recently as two weeks ago and pleaded not guilty for more than a year but a source close to them told CNN this week they finally wanted "to put this behind them."

Loughlin, 55, and Giannulli, 56, had been accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake crew team recruits.

Under the agreement, Loughlin will be sentenced to two months in prison and Giannulli will be sentenced to five months in prison.

Additionally, Loughlin faces a $150,000 fine, two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli faces a $250,000 fine, two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.

The actress, who is best known for her role as Aunt Becky on the sitcom "Full House," and her husband had previously been charged with three counts of conspiracy. The additional counts were dismissed.

They allegedly paid $500,000 as part of a scheme with Rick Singer, the scam's mastermind, and a USC athletics official to get their two daughters into the university as members of the crew team, even though they did not participate in crew.

As part of the scheme, Giannulli emailed Singer pictures of his daughters posing on indoor rowing machines, which were then used to create the athletic profiles, the criminal complaint states.

"Good news my daughter ... is in (U)SC... bad is I had to work the system," Giannulli allegedly wrote in an email to his accountant.

After Singer informed Loughlin and Giannulli via email in November 2017 that their youngest daughter was provisionally accepted to USC as an athletic recruit, Loughlin replied, "This is wonderful news."

"Please continue to keep hush hush until March," Singer replied, according to Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen.

"Yes, of course," Loughlin wrote.

The daughters are no longer enrolled at USC, the school said last year.

If Loughlin and Giannulli had gone to trial and been convicted, they could have faced up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge.

They are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the case. Actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year for paying $15,000 to the scam's mastermind as part of a scheme to cheat on the SATs and boost her daughter's test scores. She ultimately served 11 days in prison.

Peter Dameris, 60, of Pacific Palisades, California, who was the 54th person charged in the scandal, will plead guilty to using fraud and bribery to facilitate his son's acceptance to Georgetown University, according to a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Dameris will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to the statement. A plea hearing has not been scheduled.

Under an agreement making Dameris the 25th parent to enter a guilty plea, the government will recommend a sentence of time served, 21 months of home confinement, a $95,000 fine and restitution.

Dameris paid $300,000 to Singer's purported charity to facilitate his son's recruitment to Georgetown University as a tennis player, even though he did not play tennis competitively, according to the government.

CNN's Eric Levenson contributed to this story.

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