Andrew Lelling, whose office is prosecuting the Operation Varsity Blues case, gave a rare interview over the weekend praising "classy" Felicity Huffman ahead of prison. He also confirmed that Lori Loughlin faces a "substantially higher" amount of time behind bars if convicted.
The Boston prosecutor, who was appointed U.S. attorney by President Trump in 2017, was asked why he proposed a prison sentence of only one-month for Huffman, who pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud conspiracy. During an interview with On the Record on WCVB Channel 5, Lelling called Huffman "probably the least culpable of the defendants who we've charged in that case."
"One of the things we looked at was money involved. She spent about $15,000 to have her daughter get a fake SAT score," he explained. "She took responsibility almost immediately. She was contrite, did not try to minimize her conduct. I think she handled it in a very classy way and so, at the end of the day, we thought the one-month was proportional."
Ultimately, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison, 250 hours of community service and a fine of $30,000.
"I think the two weeks she actually got was also reasonable, we were happy with that," Lelling said. "I think it was a thoughtful sentence."
Lelling said a person receiving a lesser sentence after pleading guilty is "almost always" the outcome.
"If people take responsibility for their conduct and they take responsibility for their conduct early on, then it will probably go better for them," he shared. "What I value in the Felicity Huffman sentence is that I think it sent a clear message to the other parents involved that there really is a good chance that if you're convicted of the offense, you are going to go to prison for some period of time because the least culpable defendant who took responsibility right away, even she got prison."
Lelling was asked specifically about Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying around $500,000 to get their daughters into USC as crew recruits, even though neither rowed. He confirmed what legal experts speculated to Yahoo Entertainment last month — that Loughlin will spend more time in prison than Huffman if convicted.
"If she's convicted... we would probably ask for a higher sentence for her than we did for Felicity Huffman," Lelling said. "I can't tell you exactly what that would be. The longer the case goes, let's say she goes through to trial, if it is after trial, certainly, we would ask for something substantially higher. If she resolved it before trial, something lower than that."
Loughlin and Giannulli are some of the parents implicated in the college admissions scandal that are fighting the charges against them. They pleaded not guilty to two charges: conspiracy to commit money laundering; and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud. They were hit with an additional charge when they didn't agree to a plea deal.
Lelling's comments won't ease Loughlin's fears. Last week, Entertainment Tonight reported the Full House alum's "anxiety is through the roof, she is terrified, and she's been consumed with trying to put on a happy face but it's not easy under the circumstances."
"The college scandal has been the biggest challenge of Lori's life," the insider claimed. "She never imagined her public persona would plummet or she could face jail time. This has affected every aspect of her life."
ET's source added, "Lori has been trying to stay positive and resolved herself to the fact she's a good person that meant no wrong and that she made the right decision to share an attorney with her husband and not take a plea."
Loughlin, Giannulli and the other parents fighting federal charges are due back in court in January.
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