By Tyler McCarthy
Published November 15, 2019
Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli are reportedly “discouraged” and “concerned” after another parent swept up in the college admissions scandal got a six-month sentence behind bars.
Toby MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, Calif., was sentenced in Boston’s federal court Wednesday after pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy in June. His prison sentence is the longest among 12 other parents who have been sentenced in the widespread college admissions scandal.
What is causing Loughlin and husband angst is that MacFarlane's crimes are very similar to the ones the couple has been accused of committing.
“There’s a similarity to the cases,” a source told People magazine. “And they’re smart enough to see that. So they’re very concerned. If this guy pleaded guilty and was still given six months, what does that mean for them? If they’re convicted, their sentences are going to be very severe. Also, they face more charges than Mr. MacFarlane did. They’re very discouraged.”
MacFarlane paid $200,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to get his daughter admitted to the University of Southern California as a soccer recruit in 2014, authorities said. A phony athlete profile created for his daughter said she was a three-time “US Club Soccer All American,” even though she never earned the honor.
MacFarlane later paid another $250,000 to get his son into USC as a basketball recruit in 2017, investigators said.
Giannulli, 56, and Loughlin, 55, are accused of doing nearly the same thing by arranging a total collective payment of $500,000 to Singer to get their daughters recruited to USC as athletes on the crew team, despite never having participated in the sport.
But unlike MacFarlane, the couple did not plead guilty. The Justice Department announced in October that the duo, along with nine other parents, were indicted on additional federal charges related to bribery. A grand jury in Boston indicted the parents on charges of trying to bribe officials at an organization that receives at least $10,000 in federal funding.
The charge of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The couple was previously hit with charges of money laundering and conspiracy that could land them behind bars for 40 years if convicted on all of them. Prosecutors are pressuring those who have pleaded not guilty in the college admissions scandal to acknowledge their guilt.
Several stars have weighed in on the proceedings, both for and against Loughlin and her husband. "Real Housewives" star Teresa Giudice recently opened up about the Loughlin case with Entertainment Tonight, predicting that the actress will come out on top, regardless of the outcome.
"I'm sure she'll make it through," the reality star explained. "I feel women are strong. We have babies, we do it all. I'm sure whatever outcome it is, I'm sure she'll be fine with it.
"Her daughters are older… You know, she did it for her daughters and, I mean, her daughters are grateful for what she did. She was just looking out for her daughters and trying to get them into a good school. But I guess that's it, just be open with them, and whatever the outcome is, it is. You have to deal with it and move forward."
Giudice's husband Joe was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from March until October after completing his 41-month prison sentence. He served time on charges of bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and failing to file a tax return.
The "RHONJ" husband was granted permission to travel to his native Italy while waiting on the final decision of his deportation appeal. Teresa said she once tried to get Joe, who is a legal permanent U.S. resident, to apply for U.S. citizenship but never made it a priority over the years. Legal immigrants convicted of crimes in the U.S. and who have not become naturalized U.S. citizens are subject to deportation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.