Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli agreed to plead guilty amid their college admission scandal charges — but their proposed prison sentences are very different.
On Thursday morning, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Loughlin, 55, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and Giannulli, 56, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.
Pending a judge's approval, the Full House actress would be sentenced to two months in prison, a $150,000 fine, two years of supervised release, and 100 hours of community service.
Loughlin's husband — a fashion designer with whom she shares daughters Olivia Jade, 20, and Isabella Rose, 21 — however, would receive five months in prison, a $250,000 fine, two years of supervised release, and 250 hours of community service.
A legal source told PEOPLE the couple's differing sentences come down to different alleged roles in the scandal: "Mossimo took the more active role of the two, and the money technically came from him. Mossimo dealt with Rick Singer more frequently, and was the one who originally connected with him. Lori was a bit more passive, but she was aware of everything that Mossimo was doing."
The source also noted that the couple has separate bank accounts, "although they have comingled a lot of their assets."
When asked why they agreed to plead guilty now, a source told PEOPLE, "This was a now or never deal. It was presented as the last clear chance for them to plead before going to trial, and they knew that if they were found guilty, they were realistically looking at more than a year behind bars, probably more like three or four."
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The couple will formally plead guilty in front of a judge on Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. They are the 23rd and 24th parents to plead guilty in the college admissions case.
According to the DOJ, the charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud provides for a sentence of up 20 years in prison.
"Under the plea agreements filed today, these defendants will serve prison terms reflecting their respective roles in a conspiracy to corrupt the college admissions process and which are consistent with prior sentences in this case," U.S. attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. "We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions."
On March 12, 2019, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts indicted Loughlin and Giannulli in the shocking nationwide scam as part of an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.
Nearly 50 other parents, coaches, exam proctors and admissions counselors were accused of actions such as paying for boosted SAT scores and lying about students’ athletic skills in order to gain them acceptance to elite colleges including Yale, Georgetown, USC and Stanford.
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to Rick Singer — the man at the center of the scandal and the founder and CEO of the company The Key: A Private Life Coaching and Counseling Company — to falsely designate their daughters as recruits to the USC crew team, though neither actually participated in the sport.
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