A source tells PEOPLE the couple could argue for house arrest or a suspended sentence amid the pandemic

By Benjamin VanHoose and Steve Helling
May 21, 2020 11:36 AM
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Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli's possible prison sentences could play out in a unique way given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Loughlin, 55, and Giannulli, 56, agreed to plead guilty to their charges in the college admissions scandal. The Full House alum will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while her fashion designer husband will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.

Pending approval from a judge on Friday morning, Loughlin would serve two months in prison, and Giannulli would be sentenced to five months. With the ongoing public health crisis, however, experts say their time behind bars may be adjusted.

Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin
| Credit: L. Cohen/WireImage

"States that have been particularly hard-hit by COVID — and California is definitely one of them — are absolutely keeping a close eye on the prison population and are considering ways to reduce the number of incoming prisoners wherever possible, particularly for nonviolent offenders," a legal source tells PEOPLE.

The source adds that it wouldn't be surprising if the couple — who share daughters Olivia Jade, 20, and Isabella Rose, 21 — requested house arrest or "at least argue for a suspended sentence until 2021 or later, until there is a vaccine."

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An insider close to Loughlin tells PEOPLE that the prosecution team "wants to get this all off their plates because of the shutdown" and that "the coronavirus is part of the reason why the prosecution was willing to make these deals."

"They just needed to move forward, and the best way to do that was to offer deals to the remaining families affected by this," says the source. "It was a much better offer than they had gotten in the past, so they had to accept it. The previous offers they’ve gotten have had jail times of up to 18 months, and that wasn’t going to work for them."

Adds the insider: "So they can conceivably get this out of the way by early 2021 and move on with their lives."

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Loughlin and Giannulli will formally plead guilty in front of a judge on Friday 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."

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