Actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, and 14 other parents were hit with a new money laundering charge Tuesday in the college admissions bribery scandal. The announcement comes one day after actress and 13 others agreed to plead guilty, signaling an escalation in the case against parents who are fighting the allegations.
The "Full House" star and Giannulli were among 33 prominent parents accused of participating in a scheme that involved rigging college entrance exams and bribing coaches at elite universities.
They were arrested last month on a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. An indictment brought Tuesday adds a charge of money laundering conspiracy against the couple and 14 other parents.
Amy and Gregory Colburn, a California couple accused of paying $25,000 to cheat on their son's SAT, were indicted on the money laundering and mail fraud conspiracy charges last month.
The parents are accused of paying an admissions consultant, Rick Singer, to cheat on their children's college entrance exams and get their children admitted as athletic recruits at such elite schools as Georgetown and Yale.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits, even though neither of them played the sport.
They appeared in Boston federal court briefly last week and were not asked to enter a plea. They have not publicly addressed the allegations against them. Other parents indicted on the new charge Tuesday include Michelle Janavs, whose family developed the microwave snack line Hot Pockets before selling their company, and William McGlashan, who co-founded an investment fund with U2′s Bono in 2017.
Huffman, the 56-year-old Emmy-winner who stared in ABC's "Desperate Housewives," was accused of paying $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to have a proctor correct the answers on her daughter's SAT. She and the 12 other parents agreed to plead guilty Monday to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Prosecutors said they will seek a prison sentence that's on the low end of between four and 10 months for Huffman. Experts said Monday's plea deals are putting legal pressure on Loughlin and other parents who've yet to cooperate with prosecutors.
"Felicity Huffman pleading guilty and giving such a perfect statement of remorse and contrition is a very bad sign for Lori Loughlin … If you go forward and fight this case you really could wind up with a sentence that is a lot of time in prison," said CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman.
"By having all these guilty pleas at one time … it's to send a message out there to the remaining defendants that you better get in here and you better get in here quick."
In her first public comments since her arrest, Huffman took responsibility for her actions and said she would accept the consequences.
"My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty," she said after her plea deal was announced.