Unnamed friends of Full House actress Lori Loughlin are reportedly “concerned” after seeing prosecutors recommend a mere one month in prison for Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman, yet another unnamed “insider” has told Us Weekly.
The Huffman and Loughlin cases have often been compared and contrasted to one another as the “Operation Varsity Blues” prosecution has unfolded.
Huffman pleaded guilty in May, a month after being named in the same complaint as Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli. Huffman accepted responsibility and offered a public apology for her conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
“In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot,” Huffman has admitted. “I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair. I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family.”
She admitted to and accepted responsibility for paying William “Rick” Singer $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT college admission entrance exam answers corrected by the test proctor to improve her score. And federal prosecutors responded to all of this by recommending that the famous defendant spend no less than 30 days in jail for her “deliberate and manifestly criminal” conduct. Prosecutors also recommended Huffman be sentenced to one year of probation and pay a $20,000 fine.
Loughlin’s pals supposedly believe that Lori and Mossimo should have followed the Huffman model, rather than the reject-a-plea-deal-and-fight-it-out-in-court model.
“Lori’s friends are concerned. They say she should have followed Huffman’s lead and taken a plea deal and accepted responsibility,” the aforementioned unnamed source was quoted.
As Law&Crime has noted before, however, the problem with comparing Huffman’s case and the Loughlin-Giannulli case is that the alleged levels of offense are very different.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of creating fake rowing profiles to get their daughters Isabella Giannulli and Olivia Jade Giannulli into USC, “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.”
The Huffman bribe was $15,000. The level of offense in the Loughlin and Giannulli’s case, however, is higher due to the $500,000 allegedly involved. Therefore, a better case to compare it to would be the Toby MacFarlane case. MacFarlane, a former senior executive at WFG National Title Insurance Company, admitted to paying $450,000 in bribes. Specifically, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud — nominally the same charges as the ones Huffman pleaded guilty to, but yet the government recommended 15 months in prison, a year of supervised release, plus a fine of $95,000, restitution and forfeiture, due to the level of offense. MacFarlane admitted that he committed conspiracy to commit fraud by “getting my children into USC as recruited athletes when in fact they’re not.” Sound familiar?
If Loughlin and Giannulli decided to enter a guilty plea, it’s possible prosecutors might have recommended something similar to the MacFarlane case. But the Huffman and MacFarlane cases are also different because Loughlin and Giannulli have been hit with money laundering charges, in addition to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. For that reason, Loughlin and Giannulli, on paper, face up to 40 years behind bars. While that will never happen, the certainty of a deal has been replaced with the uncertainty of a roll of the dice in court. There have been positive developments in other “Operation Varsity Blues” cases, however, that may mean all is not lost for Loughlin and Giannulli. See here, here, and here. It remains to be seen how this will all shake out.
Loughlin and Giannulli are scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 2.
[Image via Lisa O’Connor, Tommaso Boddi/AFP/Getty Images]