Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, appeared in a Boston court Tuesday for a hearing relating to a possible conflict with the legal team they hired to fight federal charges in a widespread college admissions scam.
The embattled Hollywood couple was being represented by law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, which recently represented the University of Southern California, according to court documents. The school is an alleged victim in the couple’s case.
Prosecutors argued that employing the same firm posed a potential conflict of interest, but the couple said the firm’s work for the university was unrelated to the admissions case and was handled by different lawyers.
U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley allowed Latham & Watkins to continue representing the couple but said she would rule on a different potential conflict with another firm representing the couple that also represents other defendants in the case at a later hearing.
Both Loughlin and Giannulli also waived their rights to separate attorneys and agreed to be represented by the same legal team during the hearing.
Both left the courthouse showing little expression and holding hands. Loughlin was widely criticized for smiling, signing autographs and posing for photos at her previous hearings.
The actress, best known for her role as the wholesome Aunt Becky on “Full House,” and her husband face a slew of federal charges, including money laundering and bribery, in the massive college admission scandal that rocked the nation earlier this year.
The couple is accused of allegedly paying bribes totaling $500,000 to help their two daughters get into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits, even though neither has played the sport.
Both pleaded not guilty in April.
The charges alleged that the parents funneled bribes and other payments through a purported charity and for-profit corporation and transferred money from outside the United States into the country “for the purpose of promoting the fraud scheme,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Each face charges that carry up to 20 years of prison time if convicted.
Loughlin was swiftly fired from the Hallmark Channel in the scandal’s aftermath, and her daughter, Olivia Jade, a YouTube star, lost paid partnerships with several brands.
Several universities are still reeling from the scandal, including USC, which is still investigating almost 20 incoming students for potential roles in the scam, according to The New York Times. Their admissions may still be revoked, the Times reported.
More than 50 people have been charged for their alleged involvement in the scandal, including parents and university personnel. Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to ensure that their children received guaranteed admission at the schools of their choice.
SOURCE : https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/lori-loughlin-appears-court-over-choice-law-firm-n1046946