Crime

Actress Lori Loughlin, husband and 16 others face new charges in college admissions scandal

Key Points
  • The parents are charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and are accused of paying off employees of the University of Southern California to admit their children,
  • In March, federal prosecutors announced sweeping charges against roughly 50 people connected to a college admissions scheme headed by William "Rick" Singer, a college admissions consultant.
  • Federal programs bribery carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, wearing green tie at left, leave the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston on April 3, 2019.
Pat Greenhouse | Boston Globe | Getty Images

Massachusetts prosecutors announced Tuesday that they are levying new charges against 11 of the 15 parents implicated in the "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal, including "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin.

The parents are charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and are accused of paying off employees of the University of Southern California to admit their children, prosecutors detailed in a press release.

The defendants include Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, along with Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Elisabeth Kimmell, William McGlashan, Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh and Robert Zangrillo.

One of the parents, John Wilson, was additionally charged with federal programs bribery in connection to officials at Harvard University and Stanford University.

In March, federal prosecutors announced sweeping charges against roughly 50 people connected to a college admissions scheme headed by William "Rick" Singer, a college admissions consultant.

Through Singer, prosecutors allege, parents bribed university officials for spots at top colleges and universities. The scheme also involved cheating on college admissions exams and forging photos to make students look like star high school athletes. Federal agents code-named the case "Operation Varisty Blues."

The scheme implicated actresses like Loughlin and "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman. Loughlin plead not guilty to previously filed charges of money laundering and conspiracy, while Huffman started her 14-day sentence this week in connection to the admissions scheme.

Separately on Tuesday, a Massachusetts grand jury filed additional fraud charges against seven university athletic officials in connection to the scheme.

The fraud charges include mail fraud, honest services mail fraud, wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, along with conspiring to commit such fraud.

Those defendants are Gordon Ernst, Donna Heinel, Jorge Salcedo, Mikaela Sanford, Jovan Vavic, Niki Williams and William Ferguson, who were all previously charged with racketeering conspiracy.

Three of the defendants, Ernst, Heinel and Salcedo, also face new charges of conspiring to commit federal programs bribery by allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes to admit prospective students at Georgetown University, the University of Southern California and UCLA.

Charges for racketeering conspiracy and the various types of fraud carry a sentence up to 20 years in prison. Money laundering provides a sentence up to 10 years in prison, while federal programs bribery has a maximum sentence of five years.

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CNBC's 'American Greed' takes a deep dive into the college admissions scandal