Lori Loughlin, other parents charged again in college scheme

Actress Lori Loughlin departs federal court in Boston after a hearing in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

Parents charged again in scheme

BOSTON (AP) — “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and nine other parents faced new federal charges Tuesday as prosecutors pressured them to acknowledge their guilt in a scheme involving dozens of wealthy parents accused of bribing their children into elite universities or cheating on college entrance exams.

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. In this case, they’re accused of paying to get their children admitted to the University of Southern California.

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.

A total of 35 wealthy and celebrity parents have been charged in the scheme that showed how far some will go to get their children into top universities like Stanford and Yale.

Some parents are accused of paying admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to falsely portray their children as star athletes and then bribe college sports officials to get them admitted as recruited athletes. Others are accused of paying Singer to help cheat on their children’s SAT and ACT exams.

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

Along with the new conspiracy charge, Massachusetts real estate developer John Wilson also was indicted on two new counts of substantive federal programs bribery. Prosecutors said Wilson paid Singer $1 million in hopes of paying bribes to get two of his children into Stanford and Harvard.

It’s the second time prosecutors have added new charges for parents pleading not guilty in the case. In April, they added money laundering to the initial charges of fraud and conspiracy.

U.S. District Attorney Andrew Lelling said the latest charges stem an ongoing investigation. In a statement, he said the new indictment will further his goal “to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud.”

Lawyers for Loughlin, who starred in the 1980s and ‘90s sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli did not immediately respond to the charges. The couple is accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into USC as recruits on the crew team, even though neither participated in the sport.

Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty.

The USC said Monday that the couple’s daughters are “not currently enrolled.” The university’s statement said it is “unable to provide additional information because of student privacy laws.”

Others indicted on the new charge include William McGlashan, who co-founded an investment fund with U2 singer Bono in 2017, and Robert Zangrillo, a prominent Miami real estate developer. McGlashan and Zangrillo were among four parents also indicted on new wire fraud charges Monday.

The 11 parents charged Tuesday are among 15 who are fighting the charges against them. Four other parents changed their not-guilty pleas Monday and were set to be sentenced next year.

An additional 15 parents already have pleaded guilty in deals with prosecutors.

Of the 10 parents sentenced so far, nine have received prison sentences, ranging from 14 days to five months. “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced and is now serving her 14-day prison sentence.

Prosecutors on Tuesday also announced new charges against several former sports coaches and others accused of accepting bribes. The seven defendants are now charged with mail and wire fraud and conspiring to commit that fraud on top of racketeering conspiracy.

Among them are former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst and former USC athletics official Donna Heinel, accused of accepting bribes in exchange for admitting students as recruited athletes. They have pleaded not guilty.

Verizon offers free year of Disney Plus

NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon is offering new and current customers a free year of Disney’s new video streaming service.

The offer announced Tuesday is worth nearly $84, based on $6.99 monthly subscription fee for the Disney Plus service, which debuts Nov. 12. It extends to certain new and existing unlimited 4G and 5G customers at Verizon, as well as the vast majority of new home-internet customers.

The promotion will potentially give millions of people free access to a highly anticipated streaming service that will feature acclaimed films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and popular TV series, such as “The Simpsons.”

Disney Plus plans to release more than 25 original series and 10 original films and documentaries in its first year, including a remake of “Lady and the Tramp.”

The promotion is the latest volley in an escalating attack on Netflix, which has amassed 158 million subscribers since launching its streaming service 12 years ago. Although it remains by far the largest and best known streaming service, there are concerns that its heyday may be nearing its end as Disney, Apple, AT&T and Comcast prepare to enter the fray with well-funded and, in most cases, cheaper alternatives.

Netflix’s stock has lost about a third of its value since hitting its peak price 16 months ago. The shares shed 3% Tuesday after the Verizon announcement.

Other streaming services are also offering free introductory periods in an attempt to ensure early exposure to a big audience.Apple is offering a free year to its new streaming service, scheduled to debut Nov. 1, to anyone how buys an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.