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Celebrity pair plead in college scheme

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Full House star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded guilty Friday to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as part of a college admissions bribery scheme, but a judge has not decided whether he'll accept the deals they made with prosecutors.

The couple appeared on separate screens during their video hearing, both sitting with a lawyer, as the prosecutor detailed their crimes. Neither made any comments other than to answer questions from U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton.

Loughlin and Giannini had been scheduled to go to trial in October on charges that they got their two daughters into the university as crew recruits, even though neither girl was a rower. Prosecutors say they funneled money through a sham charity operated by college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme.

Under their proposed deals, Loughlin, 55, hopes to spend two months in prison and Giannulli, 56, is seeking to serve five months. Loughlin also has agreed to pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service. Giannulli has agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service.

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However, the judge said he wanted to review a presentencing report and scheduled a hearing for Aug. 21.

Loughlin and Giannulli were among dozens of wealthy parents, athletic coaches and others charged last year in the bribery scheme.

Nominee gets nod as spy agencies chief

WASHINGTON -- A divided Senate has voted to confirm U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, a fierce conservative ally of President Donald Trump's with relatively little intelligence experience, to become the next director of the nation's spy agencies.

Democrats opposed the nomination en masse, but they agreed to dispense with the normal rules and accelerate Ratcliffe's confirmation in an effort to more quickly oust the acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, whose actions have irked lawmakers in both parties. The final tally in the Senate vote Thursday was 49-44.

Ratcliffe was first tapped by Trump to oversee the nation's 17 intelligence agencies last summer but withdrew from consideration within days after doubts about his qualifications, his partisan political background and reports that he had inflated his resume from his time as a federal prosecutor in Texas.

Ratcliffe promised during his confirmation to work in a nonpartisan manner, insisting that he would "deliver the unvarnished truth" to the president and Congress, unshaded by political objectives.

Virtual ceremony lauds naval graduates

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Naval Academy on Friday held its first-ever virtual graduation and commissioning ceremony, welcoming a new class of officers into the Navy and Marine Corps as the sea services steer through the coronavirus crisis.

In remarks recorded earlier in the week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper congratulated the 1,017 graduating midshipmen, reminded them of the importance of character, trust and leadership, and pointed to the pandemic as an example of unexpected challenges they will inevitably face in their military careers.

The ceremony for graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Annapolis, Md., was done virtually on Wednesday and featured a prerecorded keynote address by Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The decision not to have a live Naval Academy graduation ceremony reflects concern about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Air Force held a scaled-back live graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colo.,. on April 18 attended by Vice President Mike Pence. The Army is scheduled to hold a live graduation ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on June 13 with President Donald Trump as the commencement speaker.

Smoke inhalation cited in 34 boat deaths

LOS ANGELES -- Coroner's reports for the 34 victims in a scuba boat fire off the Southern California coast last year show they died of carbon monoxide poisoning before they were burned, authorities said Thursday.

All 33 scuba divers and one crew member died in the Sept. 2 fire aboard the Conception, anchored off Santa Cruz Island. The only survivors were the captain and four other crew members, who were asleep above deck.

The Santa Barbara County coroner's reports list smoke inhalation as the cause of death for the 34 victims, all of whom were in the below-deck bunk room when the fire broke out. The manner of death is considered accidental, said Lt. Erik Raney of the Santa Barbara sheriff's office.

The pre-dawn blaze swept through the boat as it was anchored off the Channel Islands for a three-day excursion.

Several victims' families have filed wrongful-death lawsuits as counterclaims against the boat company, Truth Aquatics Inc. The Coast Guard, FBI, and U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles are leading an ongoing criminal investigation.

A Section on 05/23/2020

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