A key individual involved in the nationwide college cheating scandal that ensnared America’s rich and famous pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit racketeering.
We already knew that Laura Janke, 36, the former assistant women’s soccer coach involved in creating fake rowing profiles that helped one of Full House actress Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli‘s daughters get into USC would plead guilty, but that is now official.
Federal prosecutors once again noted on Tuesday that Janke is cooperating with investigators. As Law&Crime reported before, this is not a good thing for Loughlin and Giannulli. The couple, rather than taking the guilty plea route like Janke and others (actress Felicity Huffman included), have decided to take their chances in court and fight money laundering/fraud charges. Janke’s cooperation, given her admitted involvement in the racketeering scheme and the connection to Loughlin’s daughters, is significant.
The couple was accused from the start of creating fake rowing profiles to get their daughters Isabella Giannulli and Olivia Jade Giannulli into USC, “agree[ing] to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the [University of Southern California (USC)] crew team–despite the fact that they did not participate in crew.”
Payments were allegedly made to William “Rick” Singer‘s charity organization, the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), and Singer responded by getting in touch with USC employees like Janke.
This is what the charging documents initially released by the government had to say about Janke’s involvement in the creation of a fake rowing profile for Loughlin’s daughter Isabella (CW-1 refers to Singer):
On or about April 10, 2017, GIANNULLI wired $200,000 to KWF. The following day, an employee of [Rick Singer’s] sent the GIANNULLIS a receipt from KWF falsely indicating that “no goods or services were exchanged” for the purported donation. On or about April 10, 2017, GIANNULLI copied LOUGHLIN on an e-mail to CW-1 bearing the subject line, “Trojan happiness.” He wrote: “I wanted to thank you again for your great work with [our older daughter], she is very excited and both Lori and I are very appreciative of your efforts and end result!”
CW-1 replied, “With [your younger daughter] please let me know if there is a similar need anywhere so we do not lose a spot.” GIANNULLI responded, “Yes [our younger daughter] as well,” and LOUGHLIN added, “Yes USC for [our younger daughter]!” CW-1 replied, “So work to acquire [U]SC? As soon as the semester is over I will need a transcript and test scores.”
On or about July 14, 2017, CW-1 e-mailed Janke directing her to prepare a crew profile for the GIANNULLIS’ younger daughter. Janke responded: “Ok sounds good. Please send me the pertinent information and I will get started.” On or about July 16, 2017, CW-1 e-mailed the GIANNULLIS requesting information for the crew profile. CW-1 indicated that the profile would present their younger daughter, falsely, as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team, and requested that the GIANNULLIS send an “Action Picture.” Four days later, CW-1 sent the GIANNULLIS a second request, noting, “If we want USC I will need a transcript, test scores and picture on the ERG.”
LOUGHLIN, copying GIANNULLI, replied later that day, “Moss will get this done. We are back in town on Monday.” On or about July 28, 2017, GIANNULLI, copying LOUGHLIN, e-mailed CW-1 a photograph of their younger daughter on an ergometer.
Federal prosecutors said that Janke admitted to fabricating multiple athletic profiles just like this one.
Although the racketeering charge is technically punishable by up to 20 years behind bars, Janke’s cooperation and acceptance of responsibility will significantly lessen her punishment. Prosecutors said they will “recommend a sentence at the low end of the Guidelines range, one year of supervised release, a fine, restitution, and forfeiture.”
U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani is handling the case and sentencing has been set for Oct. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
[Image via ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images]