Attorneys for Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli believe they have a good chance of being acquitted if they face trial after being charged in the college admissions scandal, a source close to the actress tells PEOPLE.
“The more that [the attorneys] look at the alleged evidence against them, the better they feel about the case,” says the source. “Everyone is feeling more and more confident that this could end well for them.”
The insider, who speaks with the family regularly, tells 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, which she can’t do until it goes to trial. But still, she feels like she’s got a valid defense, and that when all the evidence comes out, that she won’t be found guilty.”
Going to trial could also salvage her reputation, says the source. “Lori feels like so much damage has been done publicly that the only way for her to counter it is to fight this case in court,” the source previously told PEOPLE. “She feels like once all the evidence is presented, that people will understand how things happened.”
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.
Attorneys for the couple were in court last week, entering formal pleas of not guilty. The couple previously turned down a plea deal because it included jail time.
“She doesn’t want to spend time in jail,” the source says, “but she knows that any sort of plea or conviction at this point will include jail time. Her only chance of avoiding jail is to go to court and be found not guilty.”
On March 12, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced that it had charged 50 people, including Felicity Huffman, Loughlin and her husband, in the cheating 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.
Singer has since admitted his role as the ringleader of the scam and has pleaded guilty to multiple charges. Huffman has agreed to plead guilty to the charge against her of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Reps for Loughlin and Giannulli have not returned PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
The source, who previously told PEOPLE the couple didn’t intend to do anything illegal, maintains that they believe the evidence will eventually exonerate them.
“Everyone has seen snippets of the evidence, but there’s a lot more out there,” says the source. “When you look at it in context, you can argue that this is a woman who didn’t understand exactly what she was doing — and she was being counseled and guided by a man who this was his area of expertise. When the evidence comes out, she’ll have a case to make.”
A trial date has not yet been set.