The husband of actress Lori Loughlin wants to serve the remainder of his five-month prison term stemming from the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal in the couple’s Los Angeles mansion, a request opposed by federal prosecutors in Boston.
Prosecutors on Tuesday filed their opposition to the request from Loughlin’s spouse, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, 57. Giannulli reported to prison in November and is currently slated for release on April 17 from USP Lompoc, a medium security facility with an adjacent minimum security work camp in Lompoc, Calif., according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
Lawyers for Giannulli last week filed a motion seeking home confinement for the remainder of the fashionista’s sentence, writing that when he arrived at the Lompoc lockup on Nov. 19, he expected to be quarantined with other minimum security prisoners for a short time before testing negative for COVID and being released to the minimum security camp.
“Instead, Mr. Giannulli was immediately placed in solitary confinement in a small cell at the adjacent medium security penitentiary, 24 hours per day with only three short 20 minute breaks per week, where he remained for 56 days before finally being transferred to the camp yesterday (January 13),” his lawyers wrote.
They said the “conditions under which Mr. Giannulli has been incarcerated are far more extreme than what the Court recommended, what BOP be determined was appropriate based on his individual circumstances, or what is warranted by the circumstances of this case. ... The toll on Mr. Giannulli’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being has been significant.”
Giannulli and Loughlin, a pop culture icon whose role as Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House” endeared her to millions, both pleaded guilty last May to conspiracy-related charges for paying bribes totaling $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as phony crew recruits.
The couple was among the dozens of defendants charged in connection with the scandal, in which prosecutors said wealthy parents paid bribes to the scheme’s admitted ringleader, William “Rick” Singer, to get their children falsely designated as athletic recruits at selective schools, effectively paving their way to admission, or to facilitate cheating on their kids’ SAT and ACT exams.
Giannulli’s lawyers wrote that his 56 days in solitary quarantine, combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has prompted the Bureau of Prisons to release more than 20,300 inmates to home confinement per Justice Department guidance, warrants him being able to serve the rest of his sentence at his residence.
Federal prosecutors in US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office see it differently.
“Any reduction in Giannulli’s sentence would be widely publicized, thereby undermining the deterrent effect of the sentence this Court imposed,” prosecutors wrote in their response filed Tuesday with the court.
They also addressed Giannulli’s protracted stay in solitary confinement.
“The government acknowledges that Giannulli spent an extended period in quarantine, and that the conditions of his confinement during that time were more onerous than they would have been at the camp to which BOP originally designated him,” prosecutors wrote. “This possibility was not unforeseeable at the time he was sentenced, however, given the efforts BOP has taken to protect inmates from the pandemic. Indeed, other inmates have also experienced extended periods of quarantine.”
And, the government wrote, Giannulli while in solitary had reported “suffering a headache and the loss of his sense of smell, both symptoms of COVID-19. He was immediately moved to the isolation unit, where he stayed for 14 days and received additional COVID tests.”
While there, prosecutors said, Giannulli had access to books, mail, and television, and could communicate with other inmates in isolation through their cells. He was tested again Jan. 11, prosecutors said, and released to the minimum security camp after his results came back negative two days later.
In the minimum security camp, prosecutors wrote, Giannulli can go outside anytime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and can be outside his dorm until 9 p.m.
“For the foregoing reasons, the government respectfully requests that the Court deny Giannulli’s motion to modify his sentence to home confinement,” prosecutors said.
It wasn’t immediately clear when US Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton will rule on Giannulli’s request.
Loughlin received a two-month sentence for her role in the scandal and was released from prison in December.
Donald Trump, in the waning hours of his presidency, pardoned another Varsity Blues defendant, Robert Zangrillo, the founder of a Miami investment firm who’d been slated to go to trial in September for allegedly paying bribes to get his daughter into USC as a transfer student. Zangrillo had pleaded not guilty.