New charges in college admissions scandal affect 11 parents, including Lori Loughlin
A grand jury in Boston returned additional charges on Tuesday against 18 people tied to the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal.
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The new charges affect 11 of 15 previously charged parents, including actress Lori Loughlin, and seven university officials. Mossimo Giannuli, Loughlin’s husband, is also among those facing additional charges.
The jury alleges that 11 defendants “conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission,” according to a Department of Justice statement. The defendants are Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Mossimo Giannulli, Elisabeth Kimmell, Lori Loughlin, William McGlashan Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh and Robert Zangrillo.
Known as federal programs bribery, these new charges allege the parents defrauded an institution that receives federal funds, namely USC, by bribing employees to admit their children as athletic recruits.
The new charges in the District of Massachusetts is apply only to parents like Loughlin who have opted not to plead guilty to the initial indictment. Parents who’ve already pleaded guilty or agreed to pleas were spared additional charges. The new charges may not have come as much of a surprise since prosecutors had warned parents who didn’t plead guilty that they could face additional charges, attorneys involved in the case told ABC News.
Wilson, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, additionally has been charged with two counts of substantive federal programs bribery in connection with efforts to use bribes to get his children into Harvard University and Stanford University.
The indictments also include more charges against McGlashan Jr., Wilson, Zangrillo and Joey Chen, who stand accused of fraud and honest services wire fraud in connection with previous charges.
There are no immediate court appearances associated with the new charges. The main effect is to expose the accused parents to additional prison time at sentencing should they be convicted.
“Today’s charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case,” Andrew E. Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said in a statement. “Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort.”
The indictment filed Tuesday include new details in the government’s case against Loughlin and Giannulli.
According to the court documents, alleged mastermind William “Rick” Singer emailed the couple in August 2016 stating he needed a copy of their older daughter’s transcript and test scores “very soon while I create a coxswain profile for her. It would probably help to get a picture of her on an ERG in workout clothes like a real athlete too.” Giannulli replied, “Fantastic. Will get all.”
In March 2017, Singer’s accountant emailed a $200,000 invoice to Giannulli and Loughlin. Just weeks later, Giannulli forwarded the $200,000 invoice to his own accountant for payment. Along with the invoice, Giannulli wrote: “Good news my daughter … is in [U]SC … bad is I had to work the system,” according to the court documents.
The seven university officials facing additional charges are Gordon Ernst, Donna Heinel, Jorge Salcedo, Mikaela Sanford, Jovan Vavic, Niki Williams and William Ferguson.
They’re accused of “conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, and honest services mail and wire fraud, in connection with the previously charged scheme to accept bribes and engage in other forms of fraud to facilitate cheating on standardized admissions tests and to secure the admission of students to elite universities by designating them as purported athletic recruits or members of other favored admissions categories,” according to the statement.
Ernst, Heinel, Salcedo, Sanford, Vavic and Williams also “face substantive wire and honest services wire fraud charges in connection with the scheme,” the Justice Department said. Additionally, Ernst, Heinel and Salcedo are facing new charges of “conspiring to commit federal programs bribery by soliciting and accepting bribes to facilitate the admission of students to the universities where they worked: Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, and The University of California – Los Angeles.”
Ernst also has been charged with “substantive counts of federal programs bribery and money laundering,” the statement said.
Those now facing additional charges were arrested earlier this year, or in 2018, for their roles in the $25 million college admissions scandal allegedly run by Singer.
ABC News’ Kate Hodgson contributed to this report.