The couple paid William “Rick” Singer $500,000 in fraudulent donations to his nonprofit, The Key Worldwide, in exchange for him getting their two daughters designated as athletic recruits, according to federal prosecutors.
The alleged bribe worked: both Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella, 20, got into the University of Southern California as crew recruits despite not rowing at a competitive level.
— Kathryn Burcham (@kathrynburcham) April 3, 2019
After Judge Mary Page Kelley made sure the power couple understood their rights, Loughlin told her she did. She also informed Kelley that her passport had been turned over to her pretrial supervisor in Los Angeles, reported Jonathan Hall of WHDH-TV. NBC Boston reporter Caroline Connolly said that Giannulli also surrendered his passport.
Giannulli also said he understood his rights and the charges and both said they were waiving their right to a preliminary hearing.
They then left the courtroom, Connolly reported. The pair were inside for about 45 minutes.
Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who also appeared in the courtroom on Wednesday, was accused of paying Singer $15,000 to have one of his associates falsify answers on her daughter’s SAT test in order to boost the score.
In all, 33 parents were charged in the scheme.
Huffman was next in court right after Loughlin and Giannulli and told the judge she understood the charge and the maximum penalty, which is 20 years in prison, reported Connolly. The “Desperate Housewives” star then left the courtroom after also waiving her right to a preliminary hearing. Huffman was reportedly at the court for several hours.
The defendants were told they were not allowed to travel internationally, reported Louisa Moller of WBZ.
Singer pleaded guilty to a slew of charges on March 12 and will be sentenced in June.
Singer’s associate Mark Riddell, a 36-year-old administrator at IMG Academy, admitted to helping fake some students’ SAT and ACT exams, in some cases taking tests for the students or changing answers.
The court appearances came after a report indicated neither actress would likely get a plea deal without prison time.
Federal law enforcement sources told TMZ that any plea deal would come with a recommendation by prosecutors for jail time.
“You can’t have people being treated differently because they have money. That’s how we got to this place. Every defendant will be treated the same,” one unnamed official said.
While prosecutors don’t have the final decision in terms of plea deals, judges take their recommendations into account.