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Feds Urge Judge to OK Prison Deals for Loughlin, Giannulli

FILE - Actress Lori Loughlin, front, and husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, left, depart federal court in Boston after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal, April 3, 2019.
FILE - Actress Lori Loughlin, front, and husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli, left, depart federal court in Boston after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal, April 3, 2019.

Federal prosecutors urged a judge Monday to accept deals that call for "Full House" actor Lori Loughlin to spend two months in prison and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, to serve five months for paying half a million dollars to bribe their daughters' way into college.

Ahead of the famous couple's scheduled sentencing hearings Friday, prosecutors said in court filings that the proposed prison terms are comparable to the sentences other prominent parents charged in the case have received, while accounting for Loughlin and Giannulli's "repeated and deliberate conduct" and their "decision to allow their children to become complicit in crime."

Prosecutors called Giannulli "the more active participant in the scheme," while they said Loughlin "took a less active role, but was nonetheless fully complicit."

The famous couple pleaded guilty in May to paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower.

The defense had insisted for more than a year that they believed their payments were legitimate donations and accused prosecutors of hiding crucial evidence that could prove the couple's innocence because it would undermine their case.

The judge said at their plea hearings that he would decide whether to accept or reject the deals after considering the presentencing report, a document that contains background on defendants and helps guide sentencing decisions.

Unlike most plea agreements, in which the judge remains free to decide the sentence, Loughlin and Giannulli's were built into their deals so if the judge accepts the agreements, he cannot change the prison term.

FILE - William "Rick" Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court in Boston on March 12, 2019, after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.
FILE - William "Rick" Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court in Boston on March 12, 2019, after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

Loughlin and Giannulli have not publicly commented since their arrest last year in the case authorities call "Operation Varsity Blues." The scheme, led by admissions consultant Rick Singer, involved including top businessmen, lawyers and others prominent parents paying huge sums to have people take entrance exams on behalf of their kids or get them into school as fake recruits, authorities said.

Under the plea deal, Giannulli has also agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service. Loughlin would pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service.

Prosecutors say they funneled money through a sham charity operated by Singer to get their two daughters admitted to USC. Singer, who has also pleaded guilty, began cooperating with investigators in September 2018 and secretly recorded his phone calls with parents to build the case against them.

Giannulli "engaged more frequently with Singer, directed the bribe payments to USC and Singer, and personally confronted his daughter's high school counselor to prevent the scheme from being discovered, brazenly lying about his daughter's athletic abilities," prosecutors told the judge.

In that instance, Giannulli angrily confronted the counselor after after the counselor began questioning the girls' involvement in crew, prosecutors said. Giannulli demanded that the counselor explain what he was telling USC about his daughters and asked the counselor why he was "trying to ruin or get in the way of their opportunities," the counselor wrote in notes detailed in court documents.

After the couple successfully bribed their younger daughter's way into USC, Singer forward them an email saying she was let in because of her "potential to make a significant contribution to the intercollegiate athletic program," prosecutors wrote.

Loughlin responded: "This is wonderful news! (high-five emoji)," according to court filings.

Others parents who've been sent to prison for participating in the scam include "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman. She served nearly two weeks behind bars late last year after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct her daughter's entrance exam answers.

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Universities in Middle East building research relationships with China  

FILE - University students display the flag of the Communist Party of China to mark the party's 100th anniversary during an opening ceremony of the new semester in Wuhan in China's central Hubei, September 10, 2021.
FILE - University students display the flag of the Communist Party of China to mark the party's 100th anniversary during an opening ceremony of the new semester in Wuhan in China's central Hubei, September 10, 2021.

As China bolsters research relationships with universities in the Middle East, the United States has taken notice – especially when that research involves artificial intelligence.

Reporting for University World News, Yojana Sharma has the story. (March 2024)

Tips for staying safe while studying in the US

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Sgt. Jason Cowger, with Johns Hopkins University's Campus Safety and Security department, walks on the university's campus in Baltimore.
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Sgt. Jason Cowger, with Johns Hopkins University's Campus Safety and Security department, walks on the university's campus in Baltimore.

Recent news events have raised safety concerns among some international students studying in the United States.

Adarsh Khandelwal, writing in the India Times, has tips for staying safe from the moment you arrive until the day you complete your studies. (March 2024)

Some colleges are making digital literacy classes mandatory

FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.
FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.

A 2019 study by Stanford found that most college students can’t tell the difference between real and fake news articles. Amid rampant online disinformation, and the threat of AI-generated images, some schools are making students learn “digital literacy” to graduate.

Lauren Coffeey reports for Inside Higher Ed. (March 2024)

With federal student aid delays, students aren’t sure what college will cost 

File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.
File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid form (FAFSA) experienced serious glitches and delays this year.

Now, many students have been admitted to college, but don’t know how much money they’ll need to attend.

Read the story from Susan Svrluga and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post. (March 2024)

Senator draws attention to universities that haven’t returned remains

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.

More than 70 U.S. universities continue to hold human remains taken from Native American burial sites, although those remains were supposed to be returned 30 years ago.

Jennifer Bendery writes in Huffington Post that one senator has been using his position in an attempt to shame universities into returning remains and artifacts. (April 2024)

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