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Lori Loughlin starts jail sentence for college admissions bribe scandal

Click to play video '‘Full House’ star Lori Loughlin, husband sentenced in college admissions scandal' ‘Full House’ star Lori Loughlin, husband sentenced in college admissions scandal
WATCH: 'Full House' star Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were sentenced on Friday for their roles in the widespread college admissions scandal. – Aug 21, 2020

Lori Loughlin surrendered herself to prison in California on Friday to start serving a two-month sentence for her involvement in the college admissions bribery scandal.

Loughlin, 56, reported to authorities at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., approximately 65 kilometres east of San Francisco, Entertainment Tonight confirmed.

Click to play video 'Lori Loughlin, husband pleads guilty to college scam' Lori Loughlin, husband pleads guilty to college scam
Lori Loughlin, husband pleads guilty to college scam – May 22, 2020

This particular facility is a low-security federal prison for female inmates and has an adjacent satellite prison camp housing minimum-security female offenders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently no visitors allowed at the prison.

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According to CBS News, the star is expected to serve her full two-month sentence, as there is no time off for good behaviour for sentences less than a year in the federal system.

“The parties recently agreed that the defendant can report to prison on October 30, 2020, instead of on November 19, 2020. The defendant has further agreed that, during her two month sentence, she will not seek an early release from prison on COVID-related grounds,” read a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed in May to serve prison time as part of a plea deal in the college admissions bribery case. Giannulli agreed to serve five months under the deal.

Aside from the two-month prison stint, she must undergo two years of supervised release, conduct 100 hours of community service and pay a fine of US$150,000.

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Loughlin and Giannulli, 57, were scheduled to go to trial in October on charges alleging they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California (USC) as crew team recruits, even though neither of them participated in the sport.

They insisted they were innocent and said they believed their payments were legitimate donations.

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Earlier this year, the judge rejected their bid to dismiss the case over allegations of misconduct by FBI agents investigating the scam.

Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in a plea agreement filed in Boston’s federal court.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of money laundering and federal programs bribery that were added after the case was filed.

“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 the August sentencing, wiping away tears as she read 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.”

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“I take full responsibility for my conduct,” Giannulli said at the time. “I am ready to accept the consequences and move forward, with the lessons I’ve learned from this experience.”

Loughlin and Giannulli are among dozens of wealthy parents who were charged with participating in schemes organized by college admissions consultant William (Rick) Singer to bribe coaches and university insiders or cheat on entrance exams. The cases are being prosecuted in federal court in Boston.

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Previously released documents show how Loughlin and Giannulli interacted with Singer and how the alleged scam worked for both of their daughters.

Multiple detailed emails show how Loughlin and Giannulli worked with Singer and his associates to create the fake athletic profiles for their daughters, who were pretending to be part of the rowing team to get into USC.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric S. Rosen wrote that the couple “specifically rejected this ‘legitimate’ approach” and pointed to emails exchanged between Giannulli and an official in USC’s development office, the New York Times reported.

Giannulli and Loughlin were accused of repeating the same process a year later for their younger daughter to get into USC.

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Singer has pleaded guilty and agreed to work with investigators in hopes of receiving a more lenient sentence.

Others who have pleaded guilty in the case include Desperate Housewives actor Felicity Huffman. She served nearly two weeks in prison late last year — the same prison where Loughlin is serving time — after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s entrance exam answers.

Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli, are no longer enrolled at USC following the college admissions scandal.

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The case shattered the public view of Loughlin, who gained fame for her role as the wholesome Aunt Becky in the sitcom Full House and later became queen of the Hallmark channel with her holiday movies and the series When Calls the Heart.

“Lori lost the acting career she spent 40 years building,” her attorney BJ Trach said, describing the “devastating” impact on Loughlin’s family life and career.

With files from Katie Scott and The Associated Press