Full House actress Lori Loughlin is reportedly “about to break,” after being slapped with a third federal indictment, according to an anonymous source said to be close to the family of Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli.
People magazine reports the couple was feeling relatively serene as of late due to their next court date being scheduled months away. The duo is set to appear before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in late January. A judge has yet to be assigned.
That chill apparently evaporated, however, when federal prosecutors leveled new charges against Loughlin and Giannulli on October 22.
“The entire family is in chaos right now,” the source close to the family told the outlet. “They knew this was a possibility, but they thought perhaps it was just a bargaining tool from the prosecution. Now that the charges are official, they are realizing that there is no way to avoid a moderately long prison sentence, unless they are found not guilty in a trial.”
The Loughlin family source continued with a biblical allusion:
They feel like this is David versus Goliath. How do you go up against the federal government when the government has decided to make an example out of you? This stress is about to break them.
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Loughlin, Giannulli and nine other parents caught up in the Varsity Blues scandal were charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery because they allegedly bribed various employees of the University of Southern California (USC) in order “to facilitate their children’s admission.”
“In or about 2016 and 2017, Giannulli and Loughlin agreed with Singer to pay an amount, ultimately totaling $500,000, to facilitate the admission of their two daughters to USC as purported crew recruits,” the third superseding indictment alleged. “Giannulli had previously been introduced to Singer by an unindicted co-conspirator.”
Legal experts were quick to criticize the latest slate of charges as evidence of potential prosecutorial overreach.
Criminal defense attorney Lara Yeretsian termed the new charges the “classic form of a shake-down.”
Law&Crime founder Dan Abrams said it’s “not really proper” that prosecutors were “throwing additional charges” at the remaining defendants if they were simply “frustrated by the comparatively soft sentences people are getting” in the case. Abrams also noted it was obvious that prosecutors are “trying to squeeze” those remaining defendants into pleading guilty.
Loughlin and Giannulli were previously charged with one count each of: (1) conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; (2) honest services mail fraud and wire fraud; (3) conspiracy to commit money laundering and already faced a statutory maximum of 40 years in prison. There is no possibility, however, that any of the Varsity Blues defendants will serve anywhere close to the federal maximum sentence due to the nature of the facts underlying the crimes alleged.
The Loughlin family source said that despite all of the stress and strain, the actress still maintained her innocence.
“Does she regret not taking the deal? Of course she does, because it would have been easier,” the source said. “But taking the deal would have admitted guilt, and she believes she was duped by unscrupulous people who enriched themselves off of her. It is her position that she was not some sort of criminal mastermind.”
“She just wanted what was best for her daughters. And it has turned into an ongoing nightmare.”
[Image via Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images]