Federal prosecutors have hit actress Lori Loughlin, her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and 14 other parents with additional charges related to the college admissions bribery case.
The news comes one day after actress Felicity Huffman, 12 other parents and a coach agreed to plead guilty to their roles in the scandal. According to the Associated Press, the additional charges are meant to put pressure on the defendants to also reach a plea agreement.
Loughlin and Giannulli were arrested last month on a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The indictment filed on Tuesday (April 9) adds a money laundering conspiracy charge against the couple and 14 other parents, including Michelle Janavs, whose family developed Hot Pockets, and William McGlashan, who co-founded an investment fund with U2′s Bono.
Attorneys for the parents have accused prosecutors of “judge shopping,” arguing in a letter to the chief judge of Boston’s federal court that their clients shouldn’t be added to an indictment that has already been assigned to Judge Nathaniel Gorton.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling called the letter “inappropriate” and a “Hail Mary by people who know better.”
“What counsel fail to say — but of course mean — is that they want a different judge because they perceive Judge Gorton as imposing longer sentences in criminal cases than other judges in the district; if this matter had been drawn to a judge viewed as more favorable to the defense, counsel would not have sent the letter,” Lelling wrote.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California, passing them off as crew team recruits although neither played the sport.
For her part, Huffman paid $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SAT. She and the 12 other parents pleaded guilty on Monday (April 8) to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Prosecutors have said they will seek a prison sentence of between four and 10 months for the actress.