Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli are fighting expanded charges against them in the ongoing college admissions bribery scandal in which they are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California.
Lawyers entered not guilty pleas on behalf of the “Full House” actress and Giannulli on Tuesday to charges of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, the Boston Herald reported.
The couple, who confirmed they are sharing the same lawyers, previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Loughlin and her husband did not appear in federal court in Boston to answer the latest counts after waiving their right to appear earlier this month.
Prosecutors added the bribery charge for 11 other parents involved in the case who had previously pleaded not guilty, while 19 parents have pleaded guilty or agreed to do so.
Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 to William “Rick” Singer to get their two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, into the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.
According to CNN, Singer ran a college counseling and prep business known as The Key and was the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation, the charity connected to it.
Through those organizations, it is alleged that he carried out a scheme of facilitating cheating on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT, and bribing college coaches and administrators to falsely designate children as recruited athletes, even if they didn’t play sport.
He was reportedly paid up to about $25 million by parents as part of the scheme, said Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.
The scandal, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” was uncovered when Boston businessman Morrie Tobin came under investigation for securities fraud and offered investigators some information in exchange for leniency.
Tobin told investigators that Yale soccer coach Rudolph Meredith was soliciting bribes in exchange for college admission, and offered to wear a recording device while talking to the coach. Investigators were then subsequently led to Singer.
Meanwhile, Loughlin was last seen in court for a 45-minute appearance in August and maintained a low profile by slipping through the backdoor. It came after her initial court appearance in April caused a media frenzy when she was greeted by hundreds of screaming fans who came to support her.
If found guilty on all charges, Loughlin and her designer husband, whose daughters no longer attend USC, could face up to 45 years in prison.
“Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman is another high-profile face involved in the college admissions scandal.
Huffman pleaded guilty to charges of fraud after she allegedly disguised $15,000 as a charitable donation to change her daughter Sophia’s SAT scores, and subsequently spent a total of 11 days out of a two-week sentence in prison. She continues to finish her community service.