The top prosecutor in the college admissions scandal said he suspects Lori Loughlin, if she is convicted, will face a "substantially higher" prison sentence compared to fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty and publicly apologized for her actions.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of Massachusetts, a Trump appointee, gave a rare television interview with WCVB-5 this month, saying he suspects officials will seek a tougher punishment for Loughlin.
"If she is convicted, I don't think I'm giving away any state secrets by saying we would probably ask for a higher sentence for her than we did for Felicity Huffman," Lelling said. “I can't tell you exactly what that would be.”
Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are preparing for trial in the scandal after they pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering in May. If convicted, the charges could reportedly result in up to 40 years prison.
The former “Full House” star and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 to ensure their two daughters were accepted to the University of Southern California as members of the school's crew team, even though neither one is a rower.
The widespread scandal — called the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice” — saw more than 50 people accused of paying large amounts of money to ensure their children were admitted into colleges.
Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in jail last month after she pleaded guilty to mail fraud and honest service charges for paying an SAT proctor to change her daughter’s scores.
Lelling, who had recommended a sentence of one month, said he thought that sentence was “reasonable” and praised Huffman’s “classy” cooperation.
"She took responsibility almost immediately. She was contrite, did not try to minimize her conduct," he said. "I think she handled it in a very classy way. And so, at the end of the day, we thought the one month was proportional. I think the two weeks that she actually got was also reasonable. I think we were happy with that. I think it was a thoughtful sentence."
“If people take responsibility for their conduct and they take responsibility for their conduct early on, then it will probably go better for them,” Lelling added. “What I value in the Felicity Huffman sentence is that I think it sent a clear message to other parents involved that there really is a good chance that if you're convicted of the offense, you're going to go to prison for some period of time."