Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are potentially facing serious jail time for their role in the recent college admissions scandal, but according to reports, Loughlin isn't fully aware of the seriousness of her actions.
Criminal attorney Mari Henderson, who does not represent Loughlin, told Access Hollywood that the actress is "living in a daydream."
"This is a very solid case," Henderson said. "There is very strong evidence against these parents. They were caught on phone calls discussing the scheme. They were caught in emails discussing the scheme. There are multiple cooperating witnesses."
Loughlin and her husband were accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters designated as crew recruits to the University of Southern California despite the fact that neither girl actually rows crew.
A source told PEOPLE that Loughlin originally had a difficult time understanding that her actions were illegal.
"It's just taking some time for it to sink in that what she was allegedly doing could be considered illegal," the source said. "To her, it wasn't egregious behavior. Was it entitled and perhaps selfish? Perhaps. But she didn't see it as being a legal violation."
"From the beginning, she didn't want to take a deal, because she felt that she hadn't done anything that any mom wouldn't have done, if they had the means to do so," the insider continued. "So this wasn't her being obstinate; this was her truly not understanding the seriousness of the allegations."
Loughlin and Giannulli, along with the rest of those indicted, were offered a plea deal, but the duo reportedly did not take the deal because prosecutors would only accept deals with prison time attached.
"They weren't ready to accept that," a source told PEOPLE of the couple. "They're really not seeing how serious this is."
As a result, Loughlin and Giannulli were given a money laundering charge, which, when coupled with their original charges, gives them a potential maximum of 40 years in prison.
"They were offered the carrot and the stick," the insider said. "The carrot was that this can all go away and you can serve your time and put it behind you. Remember, they were facing 20 years, even before the latest charges. The stick was that [the prosecution] would and could pile on more serious charges."
Now, should Louhglin and Giannulli decide to take a plea deal, the terms will be decidedly different than they would have been should the couple have accepted the original offer.
"[Loughlin] is a smart woman and she realizes that," the source said of a potential new deal. "But she is amenable to discussing how to put this behind everyone now. She's ready for this to go away."
Photo Credit: Getty / Paul Archuleta