"Full House" actress Lori Loughlin turned down a plea deal because she believed that the prosecutor was only "bluffing" when he threatened to throw the book at her over the college admissions bribery scandal, but now she's "freaking out" over the prospect of prison time, E! News reports.
Unlike "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, who was also caught up in the bribery scandal, Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (founder of Mossimo clothing company) refused to take a plea deal over mail fraud charges connected to the bribery scheme. On Monday, Huffman pleaded guilty and issued a lengthy apology. Over a dozen other defendants ensnared in "Operation Varsity Blues" have likewise pleaded guilty, but Loughlin and Giannulli turned down the offer. Now, according to E! News' sources, Loughlin is in "anguish," realizing that she had failed to fully accept the seriousness of the situation.
On Tuesday, Loughlin and Giannulli learned that along with charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, they were also being charged with conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering. Altogether, the couple now faces up to 40 years in prison, E! notes.
"For awhile, as she rattled around the 12,000-square-foot spread they first snapped up for nearly $14 million in 2015, Lori was able to keep the worst of the 'what ifs' at bay," the outlet reports. "Firm in her beliefs that surely she wouldn't see the inside of a prison cell, a source tells E! News, she neglected to join the 13 parents (including fellow actress Felicity Huffman) and one university athletic coach who agreed to plead guilty to the charges of mail fraud and honest services mail fraud."
"She has been in complete denial and thought maybe she could skate by," the source told the outlet. "She refused to accept any jail time and thought the prosecutor was bluffing. She was adamant she wouldn't do any jail time."
"Lori is finally realizing just how serious this is," the source said. "She is seeing the light that she will do jail time and is freaking out."
In her guilty plea Monday, Huffman took "full responsibility" for her actions. "I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions," Huffman said in a statement. "I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them."
The actress not only apologized to her friends and family, but also to the students who were harmed by her actions. "I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly," she said.
Huffman also stressed that her daughter had "absolutely" no knowledge of the bribery scheme. "My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her," she said. "This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty."