Loughlin, Giannulli plead not guilty in college scam

FILE - In this April 3, 2019 file photo, actress Lori Loughlin, front, and husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, left, depart federal court in Boston after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. On Tuesday, April 9, Loughlin and Giannulli were among 16 prominent parents indicted on an additional charge of money laundering conspiracy in the case. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are pleading not guilty to charges they took part in the sweeping college admissions bribery scam, according to court documents filed Monday.

The couple is accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though neither is a rower.

They were among 50 people charged last month in the scandal that has embroiled elite school across the country, including Stanford, Georgetown and Yale.

Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli haven’t publicly addressed the allegations against them.

Loughlin and Giannulli said in the court documents that they waived their right to appear in Boston federal court for their arraignment and plead not guilty to the two charges against them. The judge must approve their request not to appear to formally enter their pleas.

Thirty-three wealthy parents were charged in what authorities have called the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The parents are accused of paying admissions consultant Rick Singer to rig standardized test scores and bribe college coaches and other insiders to get their children into selective schools.

Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and 12 other parents announced last week that they have agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman is scheduled to appear in Boston on May 21 to enter her plea.

Prosecutors added a money laundering conspiracy charge against Loughlin, Giannulli and more than a dozen other parents who are still fighting the case, increasing the pressure on them to plead guilty.

Several other parents who were indicted alongside Loughlin and Giannulli last week have also filed court documents entering not guilty pleas.

Each of the charges Loughlin and Giannulli face call for up to 20 years in prison, although first-time offenders would get only a small fraction of that if convicted.

Prosecutors have said they will seek a prison sentence on the low end of four to 10 months for Huffman, who was charged with paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT score.

Rick Singer, the consultant at the center of the scheme, pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy on March 12, the same day the allegations against the parents and coaches were made public in the so-called Operations Varsity Blues investigation.