NBC News- Actress Lori Loughlin reported to a federal prison in Northern California on Friday to start a two-month sentence for her role in a massive college admissions cheating scandal, according to officials at the prison and the federal prosecutor’s office.
The “Full House” star surrendered to authorities at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, about 40 miles east of San Francisco. She was early; the judge who sentenced her ordered her to report to prison on November 19.
It is the same federal lockup where “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman served her 11 days last October. Huffman was in general population and had to follow all the rules, including a 5 a.m. wakeup call, a uniform of khaki pants and a brown t-shirt, and five inmate roll calls per day. Loughlin will be expected to follow the same rules as set forth by the Bureau of Prisons.
There are currently no visitors allowed at the prison because of the coronavirus pandemic. As part of new intake precautions, Loughlin will be tested for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and placed in quarantine. Loughlin, who was assigned Bureau of Prisons number 77827-112, has also been ordered to pay a fine of $150,000 and complete 100 hours of community service once she is released under the sentence handed down by Judge Nathaniel Gorton during a virtual hearing in August. She is expected to serve her full two months behind bars because there is no time off for good behavior in the federal system for sentences less than a year.
Huffman was released on the 11th day of her 14-day sentence. She was released on a Friday as is normal policy for inmates who are set to be released on weekends, according to prison officials.
The 56-year-old Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, admitted in May to paying $500,000 to Rick Singer and Key Worldwide Foundation to falsely designate her daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, 20, and Isabella Rose Giannulli, 21, as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team. Neither girl was a rower. The couple went as far as to pose the students on rowing machines for their admissions application.
Giannulli, 57, was sentenced to five months in prison, 250 hours of community service and a fine of $250,000.
The family's lawyers and representatives declined to comment Friday.
Loughlin and Giannulli are among the 57 people who have been charged in the sprawling college cheating scandal — dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by the FBI — that rocked college admissions offices and shook public trust in the system. The mastermind of the scheme, Singer, has pleaded guilty but remains unsentenced as federal prosecutors continue to use him as a cooperating witness. He and a group of coaches and administrators offered parents options of cheating on standardized tests or bribing their way into college through a side door, all for a hefty fee. “I made an awful decision and went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage in the college admissions process,” Loughlin said at her August sentencing, reading from a statement.
“I thought I was acting out of love for my children, but in reality, it only undermined and diminished my daughters’ abilities and accomplishments," she read as she wiped away tears. Those tears and her surrender to federal custody are a far cry from the attitude she exhibited at her first court appearance more than a year and a half ago. Then, she was all smiles, criticized for signing autographs outside the courthouse. Inside the courtroom, she made it a point to sit next to the prosecutor, something no other college cheating scandal defendant did during their courtroom appearances.
Despite her high-powered legal team, federal prosecutors continued to stack on the charges, filing four superseding indictments before Loughlin pleaded guilty May 21. With each set of charges, the threat of jail time became more severe. And though Huffman’s crimes carried lower penalties, when she was sentenced to time behind bars, the prospects of Loughlin avoiding prison time became obsolete.
Especially stacked against her was the government’s key witness, Singer, who, under the supervision of federal prosecutors, called Loughlin and Giannulli to discuss the details of the crimes they were later charged with.
As the judge prepared to issue Loughlin’s sentence, he said he had a hard time understanding the actor’s motivations behind the crimes.
"Here you are, an admired, successful, professional actor with a long lasting marriage, two apparently healthy, resilient children, more money than you could possibly need, a beautiful home in sunny Southern California — a fairy tale life," Gorton said.
"Yet you stand me before a convicted felon. And for what? For the inexplicable desire to grasp even more."