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Prosecutors in ‘Varsity Blues’ case release photos of Lori Loughlin’s daughters on ERG machines

Federal prosecutors say these pictures of Bella (lightning bolt T-shirt) and Olivia Jade Giannulli were used by their parents, actress Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, to pass them off as crew recruits in a scheme to get them into the University of Southern California.Massachusetts US Attorney

Federal prosecutors this week released photos of Hollywood star Lori Loughlin’s daughters on rowing machines, pictures the government alleges were part of a fraudulent scheme the actress and her husband joined to get their children into the University of Southern California as phony crew recruits.

Loughlin and her husband, fashion mogul Mossimo Giannulli, are charged with multiple felonies for allegedly paying bribes to the scheme’s admitted ringleader, William “Rick” Singer, to get their daughters falsely designated as crew prospects, even though neither daughter rowed competitively.

Giannulli and Loughlin have pleaded not guilty. They’ve said through their lawyers that they thought, based on Singer’s counsel, that they were making legitimate donations and never intended to defraud the school. Last October, USC confirmed the daughters were no longer enrolled.


The photos released Wednesday obscured the daughters’ faces and were included as exhibits in the government’s opposition to a motion to dismiss the indictment made by the couple and several other defendants.

Loughlin and Giannulli are two of more than 50 people charged in the scheme, in which parents allegedly cut big checks to Singer to get their children flagged as bogus athletic recruits at selective schools, or to facilitate cheating on the kids’ SAT and ACT exams when their scores needed boosting.

Parents allegedly masked the bribe payments as donations to Singer’s sham charity, or as contributions to college athletic programs.

In August 2016, legal filings show, Singer told Loughlin and her husband via e-mail that they should “get a picture with her [the older daughter] on an ERG in workout clothes like a real athlete too.” Indeed, in the photo she’s wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt with a lightning bolt on the front as she works out on the machine used to train rowers.

The later photo of the younger daughter shows her in workout pants and a tank top on a rowing machine.


Loughlin, whose portrayal of Aunt Becky on the beloved sitcom “Full House” endeared her to millions, isn’t the only Tinseltown celebrity jammed up in the case.

Former “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman served less than two weeks in the can for paying $15,000 to pad her daughter’s SAT score. Huffman, who won critical raves for her performance in the film “Transamerica,” also coughed up a $30,000 fine and was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.