NewsNational News


New 'Varsity Blues' charges affect 11 parents, including Lori Loughlin

Posted at 3:15 PM, Oct 22, 2019

BOSTON, Ohio — A grand jury in Boston on Tuesday returned additional charges against 18 people tied to the "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal.

The new charges affect 11 of 15 previously charged parents, including actress Lori Loughlin, and seven university officials. Mossimo Giannuli, Loughlin's husband, is also included in those facing additional charges.

The jury in the District of Massachusetts is alleging that 11 defendants -- Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Mossimo Giannulli, Elisabeth Kimmell, Lori Loughlin, William McGlashan Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh and Robert Zangrillo -- "conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children's admission," according to the Department of Justice statement.

The charges, announced in separate statements by the U.S. Department of Justice, may not have come as much of a surprise after prosecutors had warned parents who didn't plead guilty that they could face additional charges, attorneys involved in the case told ABC News.

Wilson, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, additionally has been charged with two counts of substantive federal programs bribery in connection with efforts to use bribes to get his children into Harvard University and Stanford University.

The indictments also include more charges against McGlashan Jr., Wilson, Zangrillo and Joey Chen, who stand accused of fraud and honest services wire fraud in connection with previous charges.

The new charges apply only to parents like Loughlin who have opted not to plead guilty to the initial indictment. Parents who've already pleaded guilty or agreed to pleas were spared additional charges.

There are no immediate court appearances associated with the new charges. The main effect is to expose the accused parents to additional prison time at sentencing should they be convicted.

"Today's charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case," Andrew E. Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said in a statement. "Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort."

The seven university officials facing additional charges are: Gordon Ernst, Donna Heinel, Jorge Salcedo, Mikaela Sanford, Jovan Vavic, Niki Williams and William Ferguson.

They're accused of "conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, and honest services mail and wire fraud, in connection with the previously charged scheme to accept bribes and engage in other forms of fraud to facilitate cheating on standardized admissions tests and to secure the admission of students to elite universities by designating them as purported athletic recruits or members of other favored admissions categories," according to the statement.

Ernst, Heinel, Salcedo, Sanford, Vavic and Williams also "face substantive wire and honest services wire fraud charges in connection with the scheme," the DOJ said. Additionally, Ernst, Heinel, and Salcedo are facing new charges of "conspiring to commit federal programs bribery by soliciting and accepting bribes to facilitate the admission of students to the universities where they worked: Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, and The University of California – Los Angeles."

Ernst also has been charged with "substantive counts of federal programs bribery and money laundering," the statement said.

There are no immediate court appearances associated with the new charges, but the main effect is to expose the parents to additional prison time at sentencing should they be convicted.

Those now facing additional charges were arrested earlier this year, or in 2018, for their roles in the $25 million college admissions scandal allegedly masterminded by William "Rick" Singer.

RELATED: Lori Loughlin is sorry, but she can't talk right now