With a worldwide pandemic and two daughters at home, will Lori Loughlin and her husband serve hard time for their role in the college admissions scandal?
Lori Loughlin, 55, and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, 56, finally threw in the towel in their drawn-out legal battle, following months of fighting charges related to the nation-wide college admissions scandal otherwise known as “Operation: Varsity Blues.” The parents of Olivia Jade Giannulli, 20, and Isabella Giannulli, 21, will both plead guilty to conspiracy charges and enter plea deals via videoconference on May 22, which leaves fans to wonder: what’s next after this abrupt change of course? The parents are now facing different prison sentence lengths despite both being accused of paying a $500,000 bribe to have their daughters admitted into the University of Southern California as members of the college’s crew team.
Lori’s plea agreement involves agreeing to two months in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while Mossimo will agree to a five-month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and one count of honest services wire and mail fraud. After the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Massachusetts made the announcement on May 21, HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Edward Molari of Molari Law, a criminal lawyer based in Boston, who answered how much time in prison Lori and Mossimo are actually likely to serve, if the worldwide pandemic will affect these sentences and even more questions.
HollywoodLife: She got two months and he got five. How much time do you believe they’ll actually end up serving?
EM: I would imagine that they would serve at least half. In general, the way it works is, you get credit for good conduct up front. Before you even start serving your sentence they take in account your good conduct credit. They take that off the top of the time you have to serve. They only do that if you get sentenced to a year or more. So they’re not going to do that in this case. That doesn’t make that ineligible for good conduct credit, but that does make it a lot harder for them to get it and a lot harder for them to implement, so I suppose if they have someone who is very diligent, hounding the people at the DOC [Department of Corrections], they might be able to get more benefit than they would otherwise, but either way, it’s going to be very difficult for them to reduce their sentence very much and in any case they’re required to have.
EM: It’s consistent with what the other people have gotten with two caveats, that being, the [alleged] guy [William “Rick” Singer] that orchestrated this whole thing — [Lori and Mossimo] weren’t alleged to be the masterminds behind this whole thing. They were however important participants, both to which the degree they participated in the conspiracy and frankly [Lori’s] notoriety in the attention that this is going to get for press and the message that law enforcement wants to send. So, justice would demand that they serve no greater punishment just because of her notoriety [as a star on Fuller House] and I think that this is consistent with that, but law enforcement would be certain that she doesn’t just skate.
HollywoodLife: Why will it be hard for them to reduce it?
EM: It’s just a logistical thing. Getting DOC [Department of Corrections] to recalculate things in theory only takes a couple of minutes, but getting someone’s attention and getting them actually to be able to do it, it’s never certain that they’re going to actually get enough attention to the people who will actually [be] responsible for getting these numbers and actually be able to do anything with things like good time credit. If you’re serving a 15-year sentence, this isn’t a problem. There’s lots of time to get that stuff done. But if you’re serving a very short sentence, a lot of the time they either don’t get around to calculating it or don’t make any opportunities available to having your sentence reduced…even if you think you’re entitled to have it reduced a little bit, they’re just kind of like, ‘You’ve got two more weeks left. Suck it up.’”
HollywoodLife: Why did he get five [months] and she get two [months], do you think?
EM: It’s got to be a part of the plea negotiations. You could imagine them calculating that — It’s all very murky which one of them is more culpable [in the wrong] than the other, right? No one’s really going to know at the end of the day. So, if you’ve got two defendants that are basically on the same side and you’ve got the prosecutor on the other side of the table, if the two defendants take the mutual position, it was one of the two of them is more culpable than the other. There’s not a lot that prosecutors can say to that. So they may have decided that it was strategically better for them to have Lori serve less time. She takes care of the kids or something, who knows. They might have gotten together and said, “If one of the two of us has to be gone, it would be easier if it has to be you, so we’ll take the position that you are more culpable than I am.”
HollywoodLife: Can they serve consecutively?
EM: Yes they can. There’s no reason they would have to serve the sentence at the same time…courts sort of by practice, and by rule, have tried to be more cognizant of the way these things impact children. So, I would imagine that assuming that they get the same judge, the judge would not make them serve at the same time.
HollywoodLife: Do you think it hurt them to hold out pleading guilty? Why or why not?
EM: Well, it doesn’t seem that they got much more time than anyone else. I’d have to check, but I suspect that the charges to which they are pleading are greater than if they had done this earlier. So it may be that if they had done this earlier they could’ve pled to all misdemeanors and one felony, whereas now there’s three felonies. That’s probably where they’re going to get dinged for having held out.
HollywoodLife: The time table that they’re serving for is not that big of a difference?
EM: It’s not that big of a difference, although, if they had wanted to angle for something like straight probation or something that they don’t really serve a sentence. [However], the opportunity to do that would’ve been very, very early.
HollywoodLife: How will COVID actually affect their serving time and them not having to do it? Do you think it will?
EM: It’s really hard to say because the Department of Corrections has these regulations about how to deal with non-violent, non-repetitive offenders and they just don’t follow them. They change them all of the time, they don’t follow them at all, so it may very well be that DOC decides that after a fairly short amount of time they’ll be released to home confinement. I can’t guess because it’s completely inconsistent with the way they follow their regulations.
HollywoodLife: In theory, could they serve as little as a week and get sent back to their home? Do you think they waited because of coronavirus?
EM: No, I’m certain they didn’t wait because of coronavirus. If there was any way that this coronavirus thing played into their calculation to change a plea at all and I have absolutely no reason to think this is what happened, but if there was any way that it played in, it would be in the fact that the judicial calendar is getting completely messed up by the fact that everything was closed for the last month. Now it’s going to be two [months], and they’re looking forward to the future and if you have a trial that you need to tend to, you can forget about that, especially if it’s like this. It’s not like a bank robbery, you know? This is not the highest priority case, so let’s say you’re her lawyer and let’s say you come to the conclusion that what you really need to do here is angle for a plea. You can’t try the case. You have to take a plea. You just have to take your best shot at the best moment. You might say to yourself, “The prosecutors and the courts these days are going to be so backed up coming out of this thing that where they may in the past decided to rake my clients over the coals a little bit more if she changed the plea, now they just might drop the pretense, accept the plea and move on.”
HollywoodLife: So it sounds like they did themselves good by waiting and holding out?