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Judge accepts not-guilty pleas of Lori Loughlin, husband on money laundering charge; can skip arraignments

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (left).
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (left). (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

Actress Lori Loughlin; her husband, Mossimo Giannulli; and nine other parents can skip their arraignments on money laundering charges in Boston’s federal court, and a magistrate judge also accepted not-guilty pleas for the defendants without hearing from them personally.

Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley on Monday approved the requests by lawyers for the actress and her husband based on papers filed in US District Court. The couple face charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for allegedly paying $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as members of the crew team, a sport in which they did not participate.

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She also approved the same process for nine other defendants: David Sidoo, Gamal Abdelaziz, I-Hsin Chen, Douglas Hodge, Michelle Janavs, Elisabeth Kimmel, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh, and Robert Zangrillo.

In all, the “Varsity Blues” investigation overseen by Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for Massachusetts, ensnared some 50 people who allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to William “Rick” Singer, who choreographed fake athletic résumés, doctored SAT scores, and sometimes had his staff take courses for students whose academic performance was keeping them out of elite schools.

Singer has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with investigators.

Loughlin’s youngest daughter is social media influencer Olivia Jade, who started her freshman year at USC last fall.

In choosing to enter their not-guilty plea through court papers, Loughlin and Giannulli, a designer, are avoiding the high-profile appearance they made in Boston April 3 when they were forced to make what is called their “initial appearance” in federal court following the issuing of an original set of charges.

Loughlin was followed by autograph seekers while awaiting the court hearing at the J. Joseph Moakley Courthouse in the Seaport and smiled and waved to some fans as she walked into the building via metal barricades set up by court security personnel.

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Felicity Huffman, the other high-profile actress charged in the case, has agreed to plead guilty and has expressed remorse for paying Singer $15,000 to doctor her daughter’s SAT test results, something Huffman insisted her daughter didn’t know.

Huffman was among 13 parents who have agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges. They face potential sentences ranging from a few months to a few years.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.