As Felicity Huffman appeared in court on Monday to formally plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, two other high-profile defendants paid special attention to the outcome.
According to a source close to Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli, the couple “carefully monitored” the courtroom proceedings via social media and news reports. They hoped to glean insight into their own cases by assessing the tone of the prosecution.
“Lori is watching Felicity’s case very closely,” the source tells PEOPLE. “She’s relieved that it doesn’t look like the prosecution is making an example of Felicity, and is adhering to the law.”
“Her big worry was that she would be treated unfairly as one of the more famous people involved in the case,” the source continues, “She’s afraid of being penalized for her fame, but it looks like prosecutors may be making a good faith effort to treat each defendant fairly. “
On March 12, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced that it had charged 50 people, including Loughlin and Giannulli, in the scandal. Along with coaches, admissions counselors and fellow parents, they were accused of alleged crimes such as falsifying SAT scores and lying about the athletic skills of their children.
Prosecutors alleged that Loughlin and Giannulli paid $500,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer and his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (“KWF”), which prosecutors said was actually a front for accepting bribes, to have their daughters Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella Rose, 20, designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew. Neither Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella Rose, 20, are listed on the USC women’s rowing roster.
Loughlin, 54, and Giannulli, 55, face charges of mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison on each charge.
The couple pleaded not guilty last month. They had previously turned down a plea deal because it included jail time.
Huffman, on the other hand, agreed to plead guilty in April, saying, “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.”
The prosecution is recommending that Huffman be sentenced to the low end of the guidelines, and spend approximately 4 months in jail.
The insider, who speaks with the family regularly, previously told PEOPLE that Loughlin wants to put the entire case behind her. “A trial drags things out,” says the source, “and she would like to move forward. She feels like she’s got a valid defense, and that when all the evidence comes out, that she won’t be found guilty.”
“She still is looking into the avenues to defend herself against what she thinks is a meritless charge,” the source says, ” but she was encouraged that the prosecution seemed to be willing to deal fairly with Felicity.”
Reps for Loughlin and Giannulli have not returned PEOPLE’s requests for comment. A trial date has not yet been set.
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