Full House actress Lori Loughlin, 54, and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, 55, have made it clear that they intend on defending their names in court, rather than cutting a plea deal with the government. It seems that the pair is gambling on the hope that a jury would “understand how things happened.” It also seems they are concerned that if they take a plea deal the public will never really hear their side of the story.
The latest “source” close to Loughlin and Giannulli told PEOPLE that the couple’s legal strategy basically boils down this this: “[Their] only chance of avoiding jail is to go to court and be found not guilty.”
As Law&Crime reported before, former USC assistant soccer coach Laura Janke‘s decision to plead guilty and cooperate with the government complicated an already serious predicament for Loughlin et al., because Janke was involved in creating fake crew profiles that included pictures of Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Giannulli on rowing machines.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused “agree[ing] to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the [University of Southern California (USC)] crew team–despite the fact that they did not participate in crew.” After the couple “neglected” to lock in a plea deal with prosecutors, the couple was slapped with a superseding indictment that included money laundering charges, ratcheting up their legal exposure. While the legal maximum in prison time is decades behind bars, there’s no shot that will happen for a non-violent, white collar crime. But legal experts have speculated before that the couple may end up getting more prison time (if convicted) than they otherwise might have had they accepted a deal.
It appears Loughlin and Giannulli are, instead, gambling on the hope that a jury will see it their way — that they were manipulated and didn’t intend to break the law.
“Lori feels like so much damage has been done publicly that the only way for her to counter it is to fight this case in court,” the aforementioned source told PEOPLE. “She feels like once all the evidence is presented, that people will understand how things happened.”
One obvious potential pitfall here is that Loughlin and Giannulli are being accused of exploiting their privileged status; even though we often refer to a concept of a “jury of one’s peers,” that almost certainly won’t be the reality once a jury is seated.
In any event, Loughlin and Giannulli don’t want to guarantee themselves prison time, so they’ve opted to fight the charges.
“She doesn’t want to spend time in jail,” the source continued. “[B]ut she knows that any sort of plea or conviction at this point will include jail time. Her only chance of avoiding jail is to go to court and be found not guilty.” Loughlin purportedly believes that if she pleads guilty the “mitigating evidence will never see the light of day.”
“Everyone has seen snippets of the evidence, but there’s a lot more out there,” the source promised. “When you look at it in context, you can argue that this is a woman who didn’t understand exactly what she was doing — and she was being counseled and guided by a man who this was his area of expertise.”
“When the evidence comes out, she’ll have a case to make,” the anonymous individual concluded.
[Image via JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images]