Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin didn’t enter a plea today in their appearances in federal court in Boston in the widespread elite college bribery scheme for they both have been indicted. But prison time for the Hollywood stars is looking more and more likely.
Mindful of the intense spotlight on the case, prosecutors are determined to see the American Crime and Fuller House actors spend time behind bars if they are found guilty, sources tell Deadline. As the duo exited the federal courthouse in Beantown in the past few minutes, the usual rap on the knuckles that such high-profile white-collar crime defendants typically receive is increasingly not an option for authorities.
The charges Huffman and Loughlin face carry a potential maximum sentence of five years.
Rumblings among law enforcement indicate the actors are more than likely looking at a penalty of somewhere around six months to just under two years behind bars. The actual time sentenced and potential probation and fines could, in no small part, depend on how much the duo cooperate with the ongoing probe, I’m told.
The relatively short preliminary and fairly perfunctory hearing appearance Wednesday at The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston by the heavily lawyered-up Huffman and Loughlin comes just over two weeks after a swath of indictments came from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
The indictments, made public on March 12, saw 50 people charged in the nationwide $25 million scam by William Singer and his phony Key Worldwide Foundation. They promised to fast-track the kids of the wealthy to top schools with fake athletic credentials or phony SAT scores.
Among the 33 well-heeled parents arrested, Huffman and Loughlin are being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, according to the unsealed indictment.
In front of Magistrate Judge Page Kelly today, Huffman and Loughlin joined several other indicted parents in a fairly standard hearing where they were asked whether they understood the charges they face. Individually, both had to ink paperwork related to their bail, respectively $250,000 and $1,000,000, turn over their passports, and agree to a number of conditions involving talking to witnesses and more.
Ex-When Calls The Heart lead Loughlin made a point of shaking hands with the three federal prosecutors before her segment of the hearing started.
The actor and Huffman also scored a small win when Kelly denied the feds’ request that they should not be able to discuss the situation with their children or spouses. In Loughlin’s case, that’s dramatically unrealistic, as her husband is also under indictment. While Huffman’s husband William H. Macy is cited in transcripts in the initial indictment, the Shameless actor is not a defendant in the case – at least not this year.
Unlike Huffman’s arraignment hearing in downtown Los Angeles on March 12, Macy was not in court today in Boston.
Singer and several coaches from top schools entered guilty pleas on March 12. The former call center manager is said to be cooperating fully with authorities in a probe that is expected to see more high-profile indictments and perhaps even charges from the IRS.
As part of a year-long investigation by the feds, the UTA-repped Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were snared after being caught 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.
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. The CAA-repped Huffman also paid an undisclosed sum to an individual who “controlled” a Los Angeles SAT testing center to fix her daughter’s incorrect exam answers. That effort led to a massive increase in the daughter’s test score and consequently admission to a top college.
Having said that, the next few weeks will start to see the pace of this sprawling case speed up as defendants and their attorneys look for deals with the feds and put on the table what they can offer.
At the same time, the investigation continues.