Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are not giving up the fight to beat the rap in the college admissions scandal and have now pleaded not guilty to the newest charges brought against them, reports Fox News.
“Fox News obtained court documents filed by the couple Friday stating that they plan to plead not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery,” the outlet reported. “The couple also waived their right to appear at a Nov. 20 arraignment.”
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department indicted the actress and her husband on an additional charge of bribing officials at an organization that receives at least $10,000 in federal funding to get their children admitted to the University of Southern California. Should the couple be convicted of the bribery charges, they could face up to five years in prison along with a $250,000 fine. This past April, the couple pleaded not guilty against charges of mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy — a combination of charges which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Sources close to the family told People in the wake of the new charges that Loughlin is now increasingly terrified that she will face jail time, fearing that prosecutors are seeking to make an example out of her.
“They feel like this is David versus Goliath,” the source reportedly said. “How do you go up against the federal government, when the government has decided to make an example out of you? How can you possibly move forward from this?”
“This stress is about to break them,” the source continued. “She is angry, she is sad, but most of all, she is terrified. It just gets worse and worse for her. And you have to remember: Nothing new has happened. They could have charged her with all of this last spring. But they waited. She feels like she is a scapegoat.”
Even if Lori Loughlin were to avoid long-term jail time by receiving a light sentence on par with actress Felicity Huffman’s 14 days, her career as a television star has been virtually destroyed, having been jettisoned from her role as Aunt Becky on Netflix’s “Fuller House” and her position as a featured talent on the Hallmark Channel.
“We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” Hallmark Channel’s parent-company Crown Media said in a statement when the admissions scandal first broke. “We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin, including ‘Garage Sale Mysteries,’ an independent third-party production. We are evaluating all creative options related to ‘When Calls the Heart’ series.”
A source close to the family recently told People that even though Loughlin now regrets not taking an initial plea deal, she still believes that she did nothing illegal in the first place.
“If she’s found guilty, she will go to jail; that is clear. And if another deal is offered to her, which I don’t think it will be, she will go to jail,” the source said. “Her only chance of avoiding jail is to beat these charges. Lori is a smart woman; she understands that. She’s scared and upset, but she’s resolved to be strong and to fight this. She will do what she has to do to protect herself and her family.”