The infamous college admissions scandal, in which high-profile parents collectively paid millions of dollars to get their kids into top-tier universities, has just taken another dramatic turn. Lori Loughlin and husband J. Mossimo Giannulli may use “parenting on steroids” as a defense in court.
The couple, who pleaded not guilty to charges connected to their involvement in the massive college admissions scandal, otherwise known as “Operation Varsity Blues,” have repeatedly denied wrongdoing — and it seems they’ll continue to do so by placing the blame anywhere but on themselves.
“These are parents trying to help their kids,” criminal defense attorney Lara Yeretsian told the Los Angeles Times. “Yes, it is parenting on steroids.”
Though Yeretsian is not involved in Loughlin’s defense, she raises a point the Fuller House actress may cling to in court: She and her husband were merely pawns manipulated in a broader scandal for someone else’s financial gain. Loughlin has reportedly said as much to sources close to her in the past, alleging “she hadn’t done anything any mom wouldn’t have done if they had the means to do so.”
As the LA Times reports, the defense could be flimsy, as prosecutors have already detailed Loughlin and Giannulli’s involvement through their payments and recorded conversations. It’s hard to argue you were manipulated into money laundering and mail fraud when the prosecution has the receipts and, as far as we know, “I’m a lawn-mower parent” isn’t a valid excuse for breaking the law.
According to an FBI affidavit, Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, into the University of Southern California as “recruits to the USC crew team.” They allegedly arranged these payments through lead conspirator William “Rick” Singer, who pleaded guilty to bribing college coaches and SAT and ACT proctors to get students from wealthy families into the university of their choosing.
Loughlin and Giannulli’s defense strategy could backfire. The couple, who recently denied a plea deal, could face 20 years of prison time if they’re found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering and an additional 20 years if they’re found guilty of prior conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, ABC News reports.
Whether they’re found guilty or remain free to splurge on shopping trips, Loughlin and Giannulli have made one thing clear to the masses: You may be able to buy your way into college, but you can’t always buy your kids’ — or the public’s — affections.