Lori Loughlin likely to face ‘higher sentence’ than Felicity Huffman in college bribery scandal, U.S. Attorney says

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BOSTON — The U.S. Attorney handling the college bribery case against actress Lori Loughlin said she is likely to face a “higher sentence” than the two weeks actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to.

“If she is convicted, I don’t think we’re giving away any state secrets by saying we’d probably ask for a higher sentence for her than we did for Felicity Huffman,” Andrew Lelling told Boston TV station WCVB.

But he said he can’t say what the sentence could be.

Lelling did say the longer the case goes, the worse it’s likely to be for Loughlin.

“Let’s say she goes through to trial, if it is after trial, we would ask for something substantially higher,” he said of the former Full House star. “If she resolved it before trial, something lower than that.”

“It’s tough to tell at this point how it’s going to develop,” Lelling said.

He also explained why Huffman received what many perceive to be a light sentence.

“It just happened that Ms. Huffman was probably the least culpable of the defendants who we have charged in that case. One of the things we looked to is how much money was involved. So she spent about $15,000 to have her daughter get a fake S.A.T. score. But there’s a few things working in her favor. She took responsibility almost immediately. She was contrite, did not try to minimize her conduct, and she handled it in a very classy way. And so at the end of the day, we felt the one month was proportional. I think the two weeks that she actually got was also reasonable. We’re happy with that. I think it was a thoughtful sentence,” Lelling explained.

Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying bribes totaling $500,000 to get their two daughters designated as recruits to the U.S.C. crew team despite the fact that neither girl participated in the sport.

Lelling believes the problem is wide-spread.

“What you have here is coaches in those sports who are given some slots to play with but there’s no real oversight to what they’re doing with those slots and so the temptation grows to sell them basically. And so you have coaches taking bribes to give these slots to those kids who are not really athletes in those sports,” he told WCVB.

“I think the schools are now scrambling to deal with that potential problem,” he said.

Loughlin and her husband have remained unapologetic. After they were hit with an additional money laundering charges back in April, they rejected a plea deal that would have reduced the charges against them. They pleaded not guilty.

They are due back in court in January.

Lelling said even a sentence like Huffman’s can be an important lesson for other parents.

“What I value in the Felicity Huffman sentence was 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 length of time because the least culpable defendant took responsibility right away and even she got prison for some period of time.”

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