November 5, 2019

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE AND HAM SANDWICH NATION: Lori Loughlin has ‘hit rock bottom’ and is ‘terrified’ she may be about to spend a maximum of 45 years behind bars behind bars after being slapped with a new bribery charge in the college admissions scandal.

In a press release, the U.S. Department of Justice said that Loughlin, 55, Giannulli, 56, and nine other defendants ‘conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission’.

In exchange for the alleged bribes, USC coaches and athletics officials supposedly enrolled the children as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities.

Loughlin, her husband, and the nine other defendants, have now each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.

Previously, Loughlin and Giannulli were facing charges of money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud.

They pleaded not guilty the charges in April and now face a maximum of 45 years behind bars if convicted.

As Bill McGurn writes in response at the Wall Street Journal,This is nuts:”

While Ms. Huffman pleaded guilty, apologized profusely and served out her sentence (14 days, but released after 12 because it was a weekend) at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., Ms. Loughlin and Mr. Giannulli are insisting, perhaps unwisely, on taking their case to a jury. Meanwhile, in the same way the sans-culottes jeered Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine, today’s equivalent— Twitter mobs and gossip sheets—are thirsting to see this icon of Tinseltown wealth and privilege cut down to size by a stint in federal prison.

Now, it may well be standard procedure for prosecutors to add new charges when their targets refuse to plead. But does anyone else think it a stretch to argue that two California residents bribing their children’s way into a private California university are committing a crime against the federal government? Or that the statutes she’s accused of violating, such as bribery or money laundering in connection with a program that receives federal funding, were really intended to go after people such as Ms. Loughlin?

All of which has yours truly hoping Ms. Loughlin and her husband prevail. Not because they are innocent. But because the case reeks of overreach, as well as my unease with the idea that the FBI and Justice are the vehicles to deliver fairness in college admissions.

As McGurn concludes, “Ms. Loughlin, remember, is a nonviolent first-offender. By all means, stick her with a fat fine and community service. But it’s just overkill for federal prosecutors to be devoting so much of their time and resources to make sure this woman goes to prison.”

Related: Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything Is A Crime.

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