Why ‘When Calls the Heart’ Star Lori Loughlin Has Refused to Plead Guilty in the College Admissions Scam

Felicity Huffman and 13 other defendants in the high-profile college admissions scandal pleaded guilty on Monday. The actress admitted she had given $15,000 to a fake charity in order to have another person complete the SAT for her daughter. Huffman said she had “deep regret and shame” over her actions and that she was sorry for the hurt she had caused.

But one prominent defendant in the wide-ranging case, which has ensnared dozens of parents across the U.S., didn’t enter a guilty plea on Monday: actress Lori Loughlin.

Loughlin doesn’t think she did anything wrong

Lori Loughlin
Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli leave court in Boston on April 3, 2019. | Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The When Calls the Heart and Fuller House star and her husband designer Mossimo Gianulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though neither was involved in the sport. But so far Loughlin hasn’t expressed any remorse for her actions. That’s because she didn’t believe that what she did was wrong, a source close to the 54-year-old actress told People.

“It’s just taking some time for it to sink in that what she was allegedly doing could be considered illegal,” the source told the magazine. “To her, it wasn’t egregious behavior. Was it entitled and perhaps selfish? Perhaps. But she didn’t see it as being a legal violation.”

“From the beginning, she didn’t want to take a deal, because she felt that she hadn’t done anything that any mom wouldn’t have done, if they had the means to do so,” the source went on to say. “So this wasn’t her being obstinate; this was her truly not understanding the seriousness of the allegations.”

Loughlin also was worried about what a guilty plea would mean for her daughters, People reported.

Loughlin and her husband were initially charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud. On Tuesday, prosecutors added a money laundering conspiracy charge to the mix.

Will Loughlin go to prison?

Lori Loughlin with her daughters
Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin, and Isabella Rose Giannulli | Phillip Faraone/WireImage

Prison time is looking increasingly likely for the parents involved in the case. Prosecutors are urging that the parents who have already pleaded guilty spend time behind bars, CNN reported.

Loughlin is facing up to 40 years if found guilty of all the charges against her. Refusing to cooperate could increase the chances the Hallmark Channel star will do signficant time.

“Felicity Huffman pleading guilty and giving such a perfect statement of remorse and contrition is a very bad sign for Lori Loughlin … If you go forward and fight this case you really could wind up with a sentence that is a lot of time in prison,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told the network. “By having all these guilty pleas at one time … it’s to send a message out there to the remaining defendants that you better get in here and you better get in here quick.”

Initially, Loughlin was “in complete denial” about the fact that she might go to prison, a source told E! News. The actress “thought maybe she could skate by,” the source said. “She refused to accept any jail time and thought the DA was bluffing. She was adamant she wouldn’t do any jail time.”

Now the reality of the situation is finally sinking in, the source went on to say. “Lori is finally realizing just how serious this is,” they said. “She is seeing the light that she will do jail time and is freaking out.”

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