Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, may have agreed to a plea deal for their involvement in the college admissions scandal, but their prison sentences remain in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic. As prison facilities across the country face increased concerns of localized outbreaks of the virus, some experts believe that the famous couple's time behind bars may be adjusted due to the extenuating circumstances.
As part of the agreement, announced by the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday, Loughlin would serve two months in prison, with Giannulli serving five months. Those sentences, which must first be approved by a judge, could, however, be adjusted. Speaking to PEOPLE, a legal source explained that states such as California "that have been particularly hard-hit by COVID" are "keeping a close eye on the prison population and are considering ways to reduce the number of incoming prisoners wherever possible." That scenario particularly applies to non-violent offenders, which would include Loughlin and her husband.
It remains unclear the exact way in which Loughlin and Giannulli's sentences would be impacted. PEOPLE's source suggested that the couple could request house arrest or "at least argue for a suspended sentence until 2021 or later, until there is a vaccine." It remains up to a judge to approve the requests should they be made.
Loughlin and Giannulli's prison sentences are not the only things to be impacted by the pandemic. After the plea deal was announced Thursday, the couple are scheduled to appear for their court hearing via video conference rather than in person due to restrictions on in-court proceedings amid the pandemic. Loughlin is expected to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, with her husband pleading guilty to that same charge as well as a charge of honest services wire and mail fraud.
According to an insider close to the couple, the plea deal was in part reached due to the pandemic. After months of back-and-forth, and Loughlin and Giannulli passing up an initial plea deal, the prosecution team wanted "to get this all off their plates because of the shutdown." The source added that "they just needed to move forward, and the best way to do that was to offer deals to the remaining families affected by this."
Loughlin and her husband accepted the deal because "it was a much better offer than they had gotten in the past" and they were ready to "move on with their lives." With the shortened sentences, "they can conceivably get this out of the way by early 2021."