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Lori Loughlin’s Latest Defense: We ‘Feel Manipulated,’ Thought We Were ‘Breaking Rules, Not Laws’


Full House actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli continue to make news through purported surrogates. The latest source said to be close to Loughlin is saying that the couple didn’t think they were breaking laws and feel “manipulated.”

“[Lori and her husband] claim they were under the impression they might be breaking rules, but not laws,” the person told ET. “They feel they were manipulated by those involved and are planning that as part of their defense.”

The anonymous source also said that they are aware of “how serious the charges are.” The strategy appears to be telling the judge their story and hoping he agrees they had “no bad intentions.”

In case you missed it, Loughlin and Giannulli have decided to plead not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 40 years upon conviction. They allegedly created fake rowing profiles to get their daughters Isabella and Olivia into USC and “agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the [University of Southern California (USC)] crew team–despite the fact that they did not participate in crew.”

While the maximum simply isn’t going to happen, Law&Crime Network host, criminal defense attorney, and former New Jersey prosecutor Bob Bianchi told Law&Crime before that the couple is still in serious legal peril and are taking a big risk by neglecting to take full responsibility.

“I think Ms. Loughlin and her husband are playing with fire. From what we know, the facts underlying these charges is rather strong, and include audio taped conversations that are damming to the defendants,” Bianchi said, before contrasting Loughlin/Giannulli’s strategy with the strategy of other defendants — even famous parents like fellow actress Felicity Huffman.

Huffman pleaded guilty early, apologized to her daughter, and apologized to all Americans. Loughlin didn’t do that.

“They in no way felt they were money laundering,” the ET source continued. “They thought the money would be used for a donation and to benefit the school. Even so, this has been one of the toughest decisions of Lori‘s life.”

Despite seeing other parents charge in the college cheating scandal pleading guilty, the person said, Loughlin and Giannulli feel “they are not guilty and should plead not guilty.” Meanwhile, their friends are supposedly “incredibly worried” about this strategy.

The New York Times reported on Monday that students involved in the scandal have received “target letters.” It’s not clear at this time if Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughters were among those sent letters, but part of the fake athletic profiles for crew involved pictures of the girls posing for staged pictures on rowing machines. This raised questions of how much they knew about the scheme:

In an e-mail on or about July 24, 2016, [William “Rick” Singer] advised GIANNULLI that his older daughter’s academic qualifications were at or just below the “low end” of USC’s admission standards. Thereafter, the GIANNULLIS agreed with CW-1 to use bribes to facilitate her admission to USC as a recruited crew coxswain, even though she did not row competitively or otherwise participate in crew.

On or about September 7, 2016, GIANNULLI sent CW-1 an e-mail attaching a photograph of his older daughter on an ergometer


CW-1 indicated that the profile would present their younger daughter, falsely, as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team, and requested that the GIANNULLIS send an “Action Picture.” Four days later, CW-1 sent the GIANNULLIS a second request, noting, “If we want USC I will need a transcript, test scores and picture on the ERG.”

LOUGHLIN, copying GIANNULLI, replied later that day, “Moss will get this done. We are back in town on Monday.” On or about July 28, 2017, GIANNULLI, copying LOUGHLIN, e-mailed CW-1 a photograph of their younger daughter on an ergometer.

[Image via JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.