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Aunt Becky College Student Admissions Scandal

By July 29, 2019September 25th, 2023No Comments

Just about everyone who lived through the 1990s remembers Aunt Becky from popular sitcom Full House.  Lori Loughlin, the actress who played Aunt Becky, is likely to be remembered as a criminal rather than her lovable TV show character.  Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, spent half a million dollars to ensure their daughters were accepted into the University of Southern California.  Though it appears as though these two celebrities exercised influence with their money, both plead not guilty to the charges. It looks like the celebrity couple’s attorneys will argue their clients did not know about the alleged bribing.


Digging Deeper Into the Aunt Becky Case 

TMZ sources report the celebrity couple insists they claim to have no knowledge of the money allegedly paid to Rick Singer, a college bribery expert.  Singer supposedly passed on some of the money to a USC athletics coach to facilitate the admission of Loughlin’s daughters to the selective school. Loughlin’s attorneys will likely argue Singer did not state how the $500,000 would be used to ensure the daughters acceptance into USC.  Though Loughlin and her husband were aware Singer desired pictures of the daughters using a rowing machine, there is an argument to be made that the request for such pictures does not automatically mean the celebrity couple is guilty of bribery. However, the complaint filed with the court states Giannulli directly transmitted more than $100,000 to a USC assistant athletic director.  It is also alleged Loughlin and Giannulli paid Singer to falsify their daughters’ SAT scores.


Aunt Becky’s Potential Penalties 

It is possible Giannulli will end up in prison for transmitting the forementioend $100,000 to the USC director.  Giannulli was well aware of the fact that his daughters did not participate in their school’s rowing team yet pictures of the girls were necessary to create the impression that their merit as crew members justified acceptance into the college.  The exchange of money makes it fairly clear Giannulli had knowledge of the bribe. The celebrity couple has also been charged with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering. Singer, the ringleader of the alleged bribery scandal, has already pleaded guilty to an array of charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice and racketeering.

The money laundering charges noted above supposedly occurred through the funneling of money through Singer’s supposed charity and non-profit corporation.  It is also alleged the celebrity couple and countless other wealthy families transferred money into the country from foreign nations with the explicit purpose of committing the forementioned fraud.  The count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and the count of conspiracy to commit money laundering carry stiff penalties: upwards of 20 years in prison along with a minimum fine of $250,000.

Everyone Should be Equal in the Eyes of the Law

Prosecutors in the Aunt Becky case will likely insist that Loughlin faces jail time.  The prosecution is well aware of the fact that this is a high profile case. If Loughlin can be punished to the fullest extent of the law, it will make an example of her to the masses.  This example might be enough to dissuade other wealthy parents from using bribes to gain college admission for their kids.

The only way Loughlin will avoid jail time is by taking this case all the way to trial .  If Loughlin’s attorneys can present evidence and make arguments that prove her supposed innocence, she just might avoid penalty.  However, it appears as though the evidence in question makes it quite clear Loughlin is guilty of the allegations. It would be awfully risky for Loughlin to take this matter all the way to court, end up with a guilty verdict and spend the next couple decades in jail.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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