Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli could be facing far more than the 14-day slap on the wrist that Felicity Huffman got for their involvement in a college admissions cheating scandal. Unlike Huffman, Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded not guilty to their charges and will go before a jury for a trial. Unfortunately for them, the judge who is presiding over the case has already set a harsh precedent.
Real estate executive Toby MacFarlane was recently sentenced to six months in prison after accepting a plea deal. The circumstances of his case are nearly identical to that of Loughlin and Giannulli. In both instances, the parents paid roughly $500,000 to have their kids admitted to the University of Southern California on fake athletic scholarships.
The big difference is that Loughlin and Giannulli have refused to admit their wrongdoing and plead guilty.
“These cases are very similar,” Good Morning America legal analyst Dan Abrams said on the show this week. “It’s almost the same amount of money. It’s two kids. It’s faking the profiles, etc. Now this was a guilty plea This was someone who’s accepted responsibility for it, and is still getting six months. So you’ve got to believe if [Loughlin] were to take it to trial, with the additional charge that’s been thrown on her, if she was convicted, she’d be looking at a few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got 2 to 3 years if she’s convicted.”
Last week, a source close to Loughlin and Giannulli told PEOPLE that they’re worried about their fate after the MacFarlane sentencing.
“There’s a similarity to the cases,” the source said. “And they’re smart enough to see that. So they’re very concerned. If this guy pleaded guilty and was still given six months, what does that mean for them? If they’re convicted, their sentences are going to be very severe. Also, they face more charges than Mr. McFarlane did. They’re very discouraged.”
“It’s very hard for Lori not to obsess about this case and what her future will be,” the source continued. “She knows that she should focus on all the good things in her life, but it’s almost impossible for her to do it. This is hanging over her head every single day.”
Legally, the couple faces up to 45 years in prison if found guilty on all counts, although a sentence even close to that seems highly unlikely.