Lori Loughlin Said She’d Lie to the IRS in College Bribery Scheme: Prosecutors

By Zachary Stieber

“Full House” actress Lori Loughlin said she would lie to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if questioned about bribes that she and her husband paid to get their daughters into college under a false premise, according to prosecutors.

Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying William “Rick” Singer $500,000 to get their daughters Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella, 20, into the University of Southern California as athletic recruits despite the fact their daughters didn’t compete athletically.

Singer has pleaded guilty to a slew of charges.

Prosecutors said that the couple paid Singer by donating to Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit that he ran, claiming they were donations and were not in exchange for any goods or services.

According to prosecutors (pdf), Singer began cooperating in late 2018 and at that time made calls to the parents he worked with, including Loughlin and Giannulli.

On Oct. 25, 2018, Singer called Giannulli and told him that the IRS was auditing the foundation.

William "Rick" Singer, front, founder of the Edge College & Career Network
William “Rick” Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, known as The Key Foudnation, departs federal court in Boston after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on March 12, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

“They asked me about your payments,” he said. “Of course I’m not going to say anything about your payments going to Donna Heinel at USC to get the girl into USC, through crew [the rowing team].”

Giannulli barely spoke during the call, with mostly one-word answers such as “sure” and “perfect.”

About a month later, Singer spoke to Loughlin and explained the situation.

“I wanted to make sure that you knew, as well, if they happened to call you, is that nothing has been said about the girls, your donations helping the girls get into USC to do crew even though they don’t do crew,” Singer told her.

“So we—so we just—so we just have to say we made a donation to your foundation and that’s it, end of story,” Loughlin responded.

(Department of Justice)

“That is correct,” Singer said.

“Okay,” Loughlin said.

“Terrific,” Singer replied.

“Okay,” Loughlin said.

“I just wanted to make sure I touched base because I didn’t want you to all of a sudden what—like what’s this call coming from.”

“Okay, yeah …” Loughlin said. “So it’s the IRS. It’s not anyone from USC, it’s the IRS,” she added.

“That is correct,” Singer said.

“Okay. Very good,” Loughlin said.

Lori Loughlin
Actress Lori Loughlin (L) appears in this court sketch at a hearing for a racketeering case involving the allegedly fraudulent admission of children to elite universities, at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., on March 13, 2019. (Mona Shafer Edwards/Reuters)

Court Appearances Delayed

A judge agreed to requests from Loughlin, Giannulli, and actress Felicity Huffman to delay court appearances scheduled for March 23 to April 3.

Loughlin and Giannulli cited “scheduling conflicts,” as did Huffman.

The trio is now scheduled to appear in Boston federal court at 2:30 p.m. that day.

All three were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and face up to 20 years in prison if they’re convicted.

Giannulli and Huffman appeared in court on March 12 and were released on bond. Loughlin didn’t surrender until March 13 and was released on bond after appearing in court that day.

The courtroom artist who drew sketches of Huffman and Loughlin said the situations were quite different.

Actress Felicity Huffman (R) appears in a court sketch at an initial hearing for defendants in a racketeering case involving the allegedly fraudulent admission of children to elite universities, at the U.S. federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, Calif. on March 12, 2019. (Mona Edwards/Reuters)

“Loughlin had her arms crossed in a fairly deflective and defensive pose, almost the entirety of the hearing. In the sketch, I wanted to show her pose: straight, unflinching, perhaps angry. She certainly looked the part!” Edwards told InStyle magazine. “She was very well put together—hair, makeup—as if she had time to get ready and look great for her ‘appearance.’ Her choice of white turtleneck was perhaps a statement of purity and innocence?”

While Loughlin’s legal team negotiated her surrender for March 23, after she traveled from filming for a television show, Huffman was detained by FBI agents with guns drawn who burst into her house on the morning of March 22.

Edwards, who has a huge portfolio that includes Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, and Kendall Jenner, said that along with Huffman’s weary appearance, the two women had “totally different attitude, expression, and the way that the body was held.”

“She didn’t have the time element Loughlin had,” Edwards told Yahoo of Huffman. “So obviously she didn’t have time to call a makeup artist and say, ‘Hey, can you make me look great for court today.’”