Lori Loughlin should “thank her lucky stars” after receiving a two-month sentence, a slap-on-the-wrist fine and community service for her role in the college admissions scandal that exposed a bevy of rich and famous families who paid to have their children admitted into some of the nation’s most prestigious schools, says one legal expert.
“Pleading guilty was a great call. It’s a very light sentence considering the potential exposure she was facing,” Gregory Stone, a founding partner at Stone, Dean LLP in Los Angeles who has tried over 80 jury trials and handles criminal and civil matters in both state and federal courts, told Fox News on Friday following Loughlin’s sentencing.
Stone, who is not involved in the Loughlin case, said the actress and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, had their feet to the fire in these legal proceedings, and accepting their plea deal was the best hand they could have played.
“Had Loughlin gone to trial and lost she could have faced years in prison and if there was a guilty verdict after a jury trial it is not likely the court would’ve been so generous with the sentencing,” explained the lawyer.
For their part in the widely followed federal case, Loughlin and Giannulli were sentenced to two and five months respectively by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. The sentences are in line with the terms of their plea deal that was laid out months ago.
In their plea agreement, Loughlin, 56, agreed to serve two months and pay a $150,000 fine along with two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli, meanwhile, would serve five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine with two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.
Stone feels Loughlin’s community service mandate is justified given the prison time handed down but believes Loughlin likely won’t be subjected to performing the type of service one would suspect due to her celebrity status.
Lori Loughlin, center, poses with her daughters Bella, left, and Olivia Jade in 2017. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
“It is unlikely Loughlin’s community service will involve anything such as picking up trash on the side of the freeway,” said Stone, adding, “She will probably be able to do public service announcements as community service.”
Loughlin and Giannulli had previously pleaded not guilty to expanded charges of bribery brought against them in October along with 11 other parents swept up in the scandal.
The charge of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The couple was also hit with charges of money laundering and conspiracy that carried a potential sentence of 40 years if convicted on all of them.
“This is a great outcome for the actress,” the attorney continued. “She should thank her lucky stars that this thing will be behind her and she can move forward to salvaging her reputation.”
Asked if he believes the jail time given to Loughlin, Giannulli, as well as fellow actress Felicity Huffman, would set a precedent in making rich parents think twice before moving to buy their children’s way into high-profile universities, Stone said the fact that these types of crimes now have dire consequences should act as a deterrent.
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“I definitely think that the sentences will have a deterrent effect on others,” he said. “Although the sentence is somewhat light, the fact that there is a prison term attached to this – however short, suggests the serious nature of the crime.”
Both Loughlin and Giannulli have 60 days to pay the fine. They need to report to a facility that has yet to be determined on Nov. 19 before 2 p.m.
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