Lori Loughlin may put on a brave and even smiley face as she faces down accusations about her involvement in the college admissions scandal. But according to sources, the Fuller House actress is starting to understand the severity of the charges she's up against. Even if, as sources report, she still believes herself to be largely innocent.
As opposed to Felicity Huffman, who cut a plea deal, Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have decided to plead not guilty in the case. They're not being glib. "[They] claim they were under the impression they might be breaking rules, but not laws," a source told ET. "They feel they were manipulated by those involved and are planning that as part of their defense."
Regarding the charges of money laundering — the couple allegedly paid $500,000 to have their daughters accepted to USC as crew recruits, even though neither participated in crew— the source says: "They in no way felt they were money laundering. They thought the money would be used for a donation and to benefit the school."
At this point though, both Loughlin and her husband are said to realize the severity of their situation. Though it's unlikely that she'll spend 40 years in prison, that is a possibility that Loughlin faces if she's sentenced to the maximum extent of the law for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
"When Lori heard the number of years she could spend in prison she broke down crying. The thought of being separated from her loved ones for years brought her to her knees," the source said. "She has watched as the other families cut deals but her husband feels they are not guilty and should plead not guilty."
But, there's hope. According to the source: "[Their friends] have explained to them that they cannot just plead ignorance. In the end, she trusts those who are advising her and somehow believes there is a chance she will go free."
Meanwhile, the scandal isn't just affecting parents and coaches. The New York Times reports that at least some of the children of parents who were implicated in Operation Varsity Blues have received letters warning them that they could be the targets of criminal probes. Prosecutors believe that some kids were aware of what their parents were doing to bribe their way into college, and that some were in on the scheming.
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