Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman may end up agreeing to plea deals in the nationwide college bribery scheme but if they do the deals will likely include prison time, according to a new report.
Federal law enforcement sources told TMZ that any plea deal would come with a recommendation by prosecutors for jail time.
“You can’t have people being treated differently because they have money. That’s how we got to this place. Every defendant will be treated the same,” one unnamed official said.
While prosecutors don’t have the final decision in terms of plea deals, judges take their recommendations into account.
Some experts said that Loughlin, her husband Mossimo Giannulli, and Huffman are unlikely to get jail time for the charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charge.
“If the parents are well represented, it is reasonable to expect that possibly none will go to jail,” said former federal prosecutor Jacob Frenkel. “These are not the type of offenses for which judges exercising their discretion would normally put people in jail.”
The latest report came ahead of scheduled court appearances for Huffman, Loughlin, and Giannulli at a federal courthouse in Boston on Wednesday.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying William “Rick” Singer, the head of a nonprofit, $500,000 to get their two daughters designated as recruits for the University of Southern California’s rowing team.
Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella, 20, were admitted to the school as recruits despite not participating in the sport at a competitive level.
Huffman, meanwhile, paid Singer $15,000 to get answers changed on her daughter’s SAT test, according to federal law enforcement officials.
Singer pleaded guilty to a slew of charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
Loughlin Said She’d Lie to IRS
In a conversation taped by federal officials, Loughlin told Singer that she would lie to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if questioned about bribes that she and her husband paid to get their daughters into college under a false premise.
Prosecutors said that Loughlin and Giannulli paid Singer by donating to Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit that he ran, claiming they were donations and were not in exchange for any goods or services.
According to prosecutors (pdf), Singer began cooperating in late 2018 and at that time made calls to the parents he worked with, including Loughlin and Giannulli.
On Oct. 25, 2018, Singer called Giannulli and told him that the IRS was auditing the foundation.
“They asked me about your payments,” he said. “Of course I’m not going to say anything about your payments going to Donna Heinel at USC to get the girl into USC, through crew [the rowing team].”
Giannulli barely spoke during the call, with mostly one-word answers such as “sure” and “perfect.”
About a month later, Singer spoke to Loughlin and explained the situation.
“I wanted to make sure that you knew, as well, if they happened to call you, is that nothing has been said about the girls, your donations helping the girls get into USC to do crew even though they don’t do crew,” Singer told her.
“So we—so we just—so we just have to say we made a donation to your foundation and that’s it, end of story,” Loughlin responded.
“That is correct,” Singer said.
“Okay,” Loughlin said.
“I just wanted to make sure I touched base because I didn’t want you to all of a sudden what—like what’s this call coming from,” Singer said.
“Okay, yeah …” Loughlin said. “So it’s the IRS. It’s not anyone from USC, it’s the IRS,” she added.
“That is correct,” Singer said.
“Okay. Very good,” Loughlin said.