American actress Lori Loughlin will serve two months in prison after admitting to conspiracy to commit fraud, a crime linked to her role in a sprawling college admissions scandal.
Loughlin -- best known for playing Aunt Becky in the 1980s-90s hit sitcom "Full House" -- and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among 50 people indicted in an elaborate scam to secure spots for already privileged children at prestigious US universities.
Solemn in a white blouse and a gold pendant necklace, Loughlin apologized through tears in a Friday hearing for her "awful decision," saying, "I went along with a plan to give my daughters an unfair advantage."
She said she realized later her actions only served to "exacerbate existing inequalities."
Loughlin is to surrender to the US Bureau of Prisons before 2 pm on November 19. She also faces two years of supervised release, a $150,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.
Giannulli, 57, will serve five months and must surrender the same day as his wife. His sentence included two years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.
Both hearings took place via Zoom video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday's hearings end a legal saga that saw Loughlin and her husband admit to paying $500,000 to gain admission for their two daughters at the University of Southern California as recruits to the crew team -- a sport neither had ever trained in.
Loughlin was among the most high-profile personalities indicted in the wide-reaching case. She and her husband were initially charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, bribery and transfer funds.
The ringleader behind the college admissions scam, William "Rick" Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.
Before accepting plea deals, Loughlin and Giannulli spent more than a year insisting on their innocence, saying Singer led them to believe the funds were not for bribes but a donation of sorts to the university.
In admitting guilt the pair were spared from potentially much stiffer sentences: their original charges carried penalties of up to 45 years in prison.
Actress Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" fame was released last October from prison, after serving 11 days of a two-week sentence at a low-security California facility for her role in the scam.
She had pleaded guilty during a tearful court appearance to paying $15,000 to boost her daughter's SAT college entrance exam score.
© 2020 AFP