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Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli are tripling down.
Before they were hit with their latest charge relating to the college admissions scandal, the Full House star and her fashion designer husband were reportedly offered the chance to give up the fight against the government and to just once and for all plead guilty as others have done.
It certainly seems to have worked out for fellow embroiled TV star Felicity Huffman.
Apparently it was a good enough threat to make four of the 15 parents still pleading not guilty to reverse course — but not Lori and Moss.
That new charge is something called federal programs bribery, a specific crime which can only be committed in relation to an institution which receives a lot of government funding. Unfortunately for the defendants pretty much every university in the country qualifies.
As you probably know, the Giannullis are accused of giving a half million dollar bribe to corrupt USC officials to get their daughters on the crew team, ensuring conditional athletic acceptance to the school — despite the fact neither girl was a rower.
Unlike many of the other people busted in Operation Varsity Blues, the couple have consistently plead not guilty and vowed to fight the charges. According to insiders, Lori doesn’t even think she did anything wrong — supposedly she was under the impression this was just what rich people did, like buying their kids’ education by dedicating a new science building. (That doesn’t explain why the whole alleged thing was under the radar and involved lying to the IRS about where the money was going, but OK, Aunt Becky.)
In any case, that fight will now continue; on Friday Lori and Mossimo filed to officially plead not guilty to the new charge.
Without a plea in place, federal programs bribery carries a maximum term in prison of 10 years. That’s on top of the max 20 years for the initial charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and ANOTHER 20 for the later charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
By our count that puts the Gianullis’ maximum prison time potential at a staggering FIFTY YEARS. Not to mention the possibility of over a million dollars in fines (the bribery charge penalty alone is TWICE the amount involved).
But clearly that threat isn’t enough to intimidate the parents into admitting they did anything wrong.
So that leaves us with two big questions:
1. Will the government try one last push for a guilty plea by threatening to charge Lori’s daughters with a crime?
2. Will a jury actually be able to send Aunt Becky to prison??
How do YOU think this case will shake out, Perezcious lawyers??
[Image via Bella Giannulli/Instagram.]