It will be many months before Lori Loughlin finally has to face trial for her alleged role in the college bribery scheme, but the U.S. Attorney who is behind the ex-Fuller House star’s prosecution is certainly aiming to bring the hammer down.
‘If she is convicted, we would probably ask for a higher sentence for her than we did for Felicity Huffman,’ Andrew Lelling told Boston’s WCVB yesterday, noting the one month that prosecutors requested and the two weeks in prison that the Desperate Housewives star was given on September 13. “I can’t tell you what that would be,” the U.S Attorney for of Massachusetts added in the on-air Q&A.
It could be up to 40 years behind bars and over $1 million in fines if the full weight of the government’s case comes down on the once Hallmark Channel regular and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli. Unlike the not so veiled threat against Loughlin and Giannulli, Lelling used the same interview to praise the guilty pleading and “classy” Huffman someone who took responsibility “almost immediately,” “contrite” and not trying to “minimize her conduct.”
Take a look at the full Operation Varsity Blues interview with US Attorney Andrew Lelling on ABC’s Boston affiliate here:
Also, called the “least culpable defendant” by Lelling in the dozens arrested this spring by federal prosecutors and the FBI, Huffman “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,” according to the lengthy March 6 indictment. At her sentencing hearing last month, the American Crime actor was pitch perfect in saying in court that “I will deserve whatever punishment you give me.”
Not long after getting her 14 days jail time, one-year probation, 250 hours of community service and a fine of $30,000, Huffman put out a prepared statement that said she accepted “the court’s decision today without reservation,” The Oscar nominee added: I broke the law. I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period.”
That’s the polar opposite of where Loughlin and Giannulli seem to be coming from.
Having formally plead not guilty in mid-April after turning down a government deal, Loughlin and Giannulli are accused in the well-heeled suspects probe of paying “bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” according to the 200-page indictment made public March 12.
Currently out on $1,000,000 bail bond, Loughlin and her spouse were hit hard with an additional money laundering charge on April 9 after they rejected the feds’ offer of reduced charges and sentencing recommendations.
“They seemed determined to take this to the mat, despite all the evidence that puts them squarely in a legal headlock and all the opportunities they’ve been given,” a law enforcement source familiar with the Loughlin and Giannulli case told Deadline. “With Huffman first being sentence and now several other parents who paid less in bribes than them, you’d think they would have finally acknowledged how deep they are in,” the source concluded.
Playing his cards a little closer to the chest, Lelling touched on a similar sentiment in his sit-down this weekend.
“If it is after trial, we would ask for something substantially higher,” declared the DOJ official of Loughlin and Giannulli’s risks of a taking the case to a jury. “If she resolved it before trial, something lower than that, Lelling asserted, clearly holding out hope of a deal.
Like Huffman, the still unapologetic Loughlin and her husband are among the most high-profile cases in the more than 30 parents indicted in the nationwide effort of wealthy families to get their children into top schools using underhanded methods and the services of ex-call center manager William Singer and his phony Key Worldwide Foundation.
Victorious in their seemingly short-sighted desire to share the same defense team in late August, Loughlin and Giannulli’s attorneys will next be back in federal court in Boston for a January 17, 2020 status conference.
Right now, the indicted duo is not expected nor required to be in attendance.
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