USC coach involved in Loughlin case pleads guilty
The University of Southern California coach who created fake athletic profiles for the children of wealthy parents, including Lori Loughlin’s daughters, pleaded guilty in the college admissions scam on Tuesday.
Laura Janke, the 36-year-old former assistant women’s soccer coach at USC, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation and testify at trial if needed.
Prosecutors recommended that she be sentenced to 27-33 months in prison, the low end of the sentencing guidelines. They also agreed not to bring further criminal charges against Janke.
Janke was among a dozen coaches and test administrators indicted on a racketeering conspiracy charge in March as part of the admissions scam. In addition, 33 parents were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud for allegedly participating in the scheme.
Her main role in the college admissions scam was to work with Rick Singer, the mastermind of the scheme, to create fake athletic profiles that made the children of wealthy parents appear to be highly successful athletes, thereby facilitating their entrance into selective universities.
Even after leaving USC, Janke continued to work with Singer and make fake athletic profiles for his clients, including both of Loughlin’s daughters, Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen said in court.
“Pretty much every school that required a falsified profile was created by Ms. Janke,” Rosen said.
In court, Rosen reviewed the evidence that would have been unveiled if the case had gone to trial. He said that Janke took bribes as an employee and assistant coach at USC, and falsified documents which she knew would be used for admission. Both parts of the scheme were done through mail or interstate wires.
In addition, while she was at USC, she helped four students gain entrance to the university under false athletic accomplishments. One of those students was the daughter of Philip Esformes, who was convicted in Miami as part of a separate health care fraud scheme, Rosen said. Esformes was not charged in connection with the college scam.
Janke also made fake athletic profiles for a Canadian client portaying them as an elite soccer player for UCLA, as well as a pole vaulter profile for the son of Elisabeth Kimmel, Rosen said. Kimmel has pleaded not guilty to two conspiracy charges in the case.
Olivia Jade’s fake profile
In one example, the criminal complaint states that on July 14, 2017, Singer emailed Janke directing her to prepare a crew profile for the younger daughter of actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli.
“Ok sounds good,” Janke responded, the complaint states. “Please send me the pertinent information and I will get started.”
Two days later, Singer emailed Giannulli to request an “action picture,” the complaint states. On July 28, Giannulli sent an email, copying Loughlin, with a photo of their younger daughter on an ergometer, the rowing machine.
The younger daughter, the social media influencer Olivia Jade, was then accepted to USC as a crew recruit even though she did not actually row competitively, the complaint states. Giannulli directed his business manager to send a $50,000 payment to USC’s senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and later wired $200,000 to Singer’s fake charity, the complaint states.
Giannulli and Loughlin have both pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Heinel has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering.
In addition, prosecutors said Janke and Ali Khosroshahin, the head coach of USC women’s soccer, designated four students as recruits to the team to facilitate their entrance even though the students did not play competitive soccer. In exchange, Singer directed payments totaling about $350,000 to a private soccer club controlled by Janke and Khosroshahin, according to the indictment.
Khosroshahin has pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charge.
CNN’s Sarah Jorgensen and Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.