"In hindsight, they should have taken the first deals offered to them last spring, which were nearly the same exact terms as this deal," a legal insider says

By Jodi Guglielmi and Steve Helling
May 21, 2020 04:01 PM
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Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli regret not taking a plea deal sooner, sources tell PEOPLE.

On Thursday, the couple agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges connected to the college admissions case, according to an announcement from the Department of Justice.

Now, over a year after they were first charged, a legal insider tells PEOPLE that they wish they had taken a deal sooner.

"In hindsight, they should have taken the first deals offered to them last spring, which were nearly the same exact terms as this deal," the insider says.

In April 2019, Loughlin and Giannulli refused any agreements that would result in jail time, instead choosing to move forward with a trial. Under federal guidelines, both of them would have gotten between 18-24 months in jail under a plea agreement. Felicity Huffman, who was also charged in the scandal, agreed to plead guilty and served 11 days of her two-week jail sentence.

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

"They would have spent their time in jail by now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But they were still reeling from the accusations and trying to understand what they did that was allegedly wrong and illegal, so they weren’t ready to take the deal then," says the insider. "But looking to the future, it made sense to take their medicine and move on."

A second source says the pending case weighed heavily on the couple.

"They were adamant about not agreeing to a plea deal from the beginning, because they didn't think the charges against them would hold. But as the prosecutor kept adding more felony charges, they were getting more involved in their defense and things just started spinning. It felt like it was never going to end," says the source, adding, "They are of course concerned about jail time amidst the coronavirus outbreak."

Under the terms of the agreement, which is still pending a judge’s approval, Loughlin will serve two months in prison and Giannulli will serve five months, the DOJ said in the announcement.

Loughlin, 55, will admit to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and Giannulli, 56, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.

And now that they are moving forward, the stars are "breathing a sigh of relief," the legal insider says.

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Loughlin's agreement calls for serving two months in prison, as well as paying a $150,000 fine and having two years of supervised release with community service.

Giannulli's agreement calls for five months in prison, paying a $250,000 fine and having two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.

The actress and her husband were accused of paying $500,000 to Singer and Key Worldwide Foundation to falsely designate their daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, 20, and Isabella Rose Giannulli, 21, as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither of them ever participated in the sport.

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 scandal.

“Lori and Mossimo are going through the legal process and want to put this behind them," a source close to the couple notes.