Lori Loughlin May was reported to be relying on yoga and her faith to help her cope with being charged in the nationwide college admissions scandal, but neither will help her avoid the strong possibility that she will be going to prison — and for a minimum of two years.
According to a report from TMZ, the “Full House” star and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have been offered the chance to plead guilty to federal charges of paying $500,000 to get their daughters — Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella, 20 — falsely admitted to the University of Southern California as crew athletes.
However, Felicity Huffman maybe facing a four-month prison sentence after agreeing Monday to enter a guilty plea for her role in the scandal, TMZ said.
Huffman could receive a much lighter sentence for two reasons, TMZ said: One, she reached a plea deal quickly; and two, the case against her is viewed as less serious than the case against Loughlin and Giannulli.
Huffman was accused of paying low amount of $15,000 to college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to illegally boost her older daughter’s SAT scores.
TMZ reports that all of the dozens of wealthy parents implicated in the scandal have been offered plea deals, with prosecutors requiring that all serve some prison time. The length of time varies, according to the amount they paid in bribes and whether they accept responsibility.
Parents who put off entering pleas, or who decide to fight the charges, could be looking at their cases going to a federal grand jury, TMZ reported. If that happens, more charges could be added, including a charge of money laundering, which could significantly raise the minimum amount of prison time that must be served, TMZ added.
Huffman joined 12 other parents on Monday, including five parents from the Bay Area, who had already agreed to plead guilty after being accused of engaging in schemes masterminded by Singer to get their children admitted to top U.S. colleges. The schemes involved helping the children cheat on college entrance exams or fake athletic profiles so that they could gain admission on the false pretense of joining a university’s sports team.
Neither Olivia Jade nor Isabella Giannulli were among the crew team members at their elite Los Angeles prep school. Both have been described by sources close to their family as “average” students who were pushed to go to USC to please their competitive parents.
People magazine reported that YouTube star Olivia Jade Giannulli apparently knew about her parents’ scheme to buy her way into USC but went along with it because she trusted them. She reportedly would have stopped the scheme if she knew they would be caught.
On the announcement that she was pleading guilty, Huffman issued a lengthy, emotional statement on Monday, acknowledging fact that she’s guilty and expressing how shameful and regretful she now feels.
The “Desperate Housewives” actress also offered no excuses in apologizing for the pain she had caused “the educational community” and to her friends and family, notably her older daughter. Huffman was charged with paying Singer $15,000 to arrange to boost her daughter’s SAT scores.
“This transgression toward (my daughter) and the public I will carry for the rest of my life,” Huffman said in her statement. “My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
A publicist who represents high-profile clients in the entertainment industry said Huffman’s apology could be an important first step toward putting this scandal behind her and helping her salvage her reputation and career.
“My number one advice to clients is to always be truthful and hold yourself accountable from the get go, should they find themselves in a situation that warrants it,” Danny Deraney, the owner of Deraney Public Relations, said in an email to this news organization.
Deraney said he found Huffman’s statement to be “eloquent, straightforward and honest.” He agreed that Huffman didn’t revert to “the non-apology apology” so often employed by public figures whose actions have caused harm to other people.
For example, Huffman didn’t make excuses, and she directly apologized for hurting other people. She didn’t distance herself from her actions by saying she was sorry “if other people were hurt.”
“Holding herself accountable is what is the most important here,” Deraney said.
“When you make yourself responsible with your actions, it goes a long way in helping your reputation heal,” he said. “You may not work again right away, but you are heading in the right direction to restore what you once had” he added.