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August 22, 2020

Via video, Lori Loughlin and her husband get agreed fixed short prison sentences in college admission scandal

Unnamed-2As reported in this CBS News piece, headlined "Lori Loughlin gets 2 months in prison in college admissions scandal. Her husband Mossimo Giannulli will serve 5 months," a high-profile (but low-drama) sentencing took place in federal court yesterday.  Here are the basics:

Actress Lori Loughlin will serve two months in prison and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, will serve five months after the couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in the college admissions scandal. A federal judge on Friday accepted plea deals from the famous couple in a video sentencing hearing.

After initially vowing to fight the charges, Loughlin and Giannulli reversed course after a judge denied their motion to dismiss the case in May. Prosecutors said the couple paid $500,000 to secure their daughters' admission to the University of Southern California by masquerading them as fake athletic recruits.

"I made an awful decision. I went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage in the college admissions process. In doing so, I ignored my intuition and allowed myself to be swayed from my moral compass," Loughlin said in the video call.

Loughlin, 56, will also pay a $150,000 fine, serve 100 hours of community service, and be under supervised release for two years. Giannulli, 57, is required to pay a fine of $250,000, serve 250 hours of community service, and serve two years of supervised release.

Earlier in the day, Giannulli apologized for the harm his decisions caused his family. "I'm ready to accept the consequences and move forward with the lessons I've learned from this experience," he said. Prior to rendering the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton ripped into Giannulli for committing a "crime motivated by hubris" that is "defined by wanton arrogance and excessive pride."

In addition to really liking the aesthetic of this "courtroom sketch" of this video sentencing, I reprinted the picture here in order to wonder aloud whether the US Sentencing Commission is keeping track of which sentencings are taking place via video these days and which ones are taking place in person.  Because six months into this pandemic the USSC still has not even reported how many sentencings are taking place, I am not especially optimistic the USSC is collecting, or will anytime soon be reporting, special granular data on COVID-era sentencing realities.  But my hope for the USSC springs eternal.

A few prior posts focused on these defendants:

A few of many prior posts on other defendants in college admissions scandal:

August 22, 2020 at 12:37 PM | Permalink


Even the rich and famous are not above the law. Few people can imagine spending $500,000 to obtain their child's admission to a certain college. Not only is this couple now out that $500,000 (plus the other fees that they paid to their "consultant", Mr. Singer), but their will pay a combined $400,000 in fines and probably have paid at least $200,000 in attorneys' fees to defined the case. When you add in the few months they will spend in prison and the years they will spend on Supervised Release, I would say that justice has been done and they will never forget the lessons that they have learned for this adventure.

Posted by: James J. Gormley | Aug 22, 2020 1:50:10 PM

The Guidelines call for a base offense level of 6 and a 12 level increase for a loss between 250k and 550k. In criminal history category I, with acceptance, that's 18 to 24 months. That's without sophisticated means or role in the offense. I plan to cite these cases when the government seeks a lengthy Guidelines sentence for my non-white, non-rich, non-famous clients. Justice continues to look different for the well-connected and the wealthy. It's disgusting. What about the kid that worked hard and didn't get in to their dream school because these lazy cheaters took the slot?

Posted by: defendergirl | Aug 24, 2020 11:38:00 AM

defendergirl: How do you factor in the fines that those 2 defendants are paying, which your poorer defendants could not pay? Is there a trade-off between time in prison and money (fines)?

Posted by: James J. Gormley | Aug 25, 2020 1:23:22 AM

defendergirl, that Guidelines range is being driven by the amount at issue in a way that isn't really connected to the defendants' culpability. Is what they did worse because they had $500K to pay toward their goal vs. your non-rich clients who hypothetically had only $5K or $25K to fraudulently get their kids into a better college? The social harm -- their kid stole someone else's spot -- is the same either way.

I also wonder if the feds would have prosecuted this (as opposed to leaving it to the state, or allowing a deferred prosecution agreement for the minor players) if the perps hadn't included Aunt Becky and other famous folk. So it's plausible we non-famous folk are better off on this kind of prosecution.

Posted by: Jason | Aug 25, 2020 3:49:51 AM

The reality is that my poor clients couldn't commit this crime. And fines and prison are calculated and decided separately and are not related. To be clear, I am not upset at the time they got. A few months in prison is more than enough to convince a first offender they don't want to go back. But my poor clients don't get the same benefit. If their Guidelines are 18 to 24 months. they would be lucky to get a only year on a first offense.

Posted by: defendergirl | Aug 25, 2020 10:00:56 AM

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