Olivia Jade could face charges in the ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ scandal, according to a new report, which claims that one of Lori Loughlin’s daughters received a letter from the Justice Department. An attorney explains why the social influencer may be a target.
Olivia Jade – the 19-year-old daughter of Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin – could be the next person in her family to be charged in the college admissions scandal, according to a new report. The social media influencer and her sister Isabella, 20, allegedly scored their places at the University of Southern California (USC) thanks to illegal bribes, the Justice Department claimed in a 204-page affidavit. Lori, 54 and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, 55, are accused of allegedly spending $500,000 to get their daughters recruited on to the college’s crew team, even though neither of the girls are rowers. The actress and the designer pled not guilty to money laundering and mail fraud charges. Until now Olivia Jade and Isabella, have not been named as suspects, but one of them received a “target letter” from federal prosecutors, according to an April 17 Daily Mail report. But, does that mean Olivia Jade could face charges, alongside her parents? HollywoodLife spoke to Boston criminal attorney Edward Molari to find out.
HL: What would have to happen in order for Olivia Jade or Isabella to get charged?
Molari: “As for what would have to happen for the children to be charged, the only answer I can give you is that if the government thinks that bringing charges against the children would serve the interests of justice, and they have evidence establishing probable cause to believe that the children committed a crime, bringing charges against the children is entirely within the government’s discretion.”
HL: If Lori and Mossimo reached a plea agreement, would that protect their daughters from having to testify against their parents or facing their own charges?
Molari: “Certainly, if they entered a plea agreement that agreement might remove any need the government would have to call the children as a witness, but a plea agreement would not necessarily make their children’s testimony irrelevant to the government if their testimony would be valuable in the prosecution more generally.
“Often, criminal defendants will seek a plea agreement which includes a condition that a friend or family member not be prosecuted, but those requests are rarely taken seriously in plea negotiations. As a rule, prosecutors will not agree to decline to bring charges against people in the future based on a plea negotiation with someone else. It’s not that it never happens, but the cases in which it does are vanishingly few.”
HL: Is Lori leaving her daughters at risk of possibly facing charges by not entering a plea agreement?
Molari: “Probably not. It is very unlikely that the government’s decision to either charge her children or decline to do so will depend on whether or not she enters a plea agreement for reasons similar to the previous answer. Again, it’s not that it never happens, but as a fairly reliable rule, that is not how prosecutorial decisions are made.”
HL: Will Olivia and Isabella need their own legal representation if they’re required to testify?
Molari: “If you ask any lawyer whether someone needs legal representation their answer will always be ‘yes.’ When you ask if someone ‘needs’ a lawyer, what you are really (usually) asking is whether legal representation would be worth the cost. Frequently, people will be in a position where legal representation would be helpful, but not worth the cost. However, given how close the investigation in this case is to Ms. Loughlin’s children, I would venture to say that legal representation would be worth the cost to her children, even if formal criminal charges against the children are unlikely.”