"I'm sorry that she wasn't," Andrea Barber said about castmate Lori Loughlin's absence at the season 5 finale taping

Fuller House star Andrea Barber is standing by castmate Lori Loughlin amid her involvement in the college admissions scandal.

“She’s one of the sweetest, kindest and most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. I love her, I love her unconditionally,” Barber told PEOPLE Now on Monday about Loughlin, with whom she starred in Full House and the Netflix reboot.

“She’s just a sweetheart, and she’ll always be family to me,” said Barber, 43.

Earlier this year, Loughlin, 55, and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were indicted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts for their involvement in the shocking nationwide scam. As a result of Loughlin being attached to the scandal, the actress wasn’t a part of Fuller House‘s fifth and final season, which wrapped filming last week.

And according to Barber, Loughlin’s absence was felt while taping the series finale.

“It was really sad, and we could feel her absence,” she said. “It just felt like there was a hole in the whole season but also in that final episode. She should’ve been there, and I’m sorry that she wasn’t.”

Despite the controversy, Barber had nothing but positive things to say about Loughlin, with whom she has stayed in touch.

“Yeah, I have,” Barber said about communicating with Loughlin. “She’s doing great. She’s doing as good as possible.”

Andrea Barber and Lori Loughlin
Andrea Barber and Lori Loughlin
| Credit: Monica Schipper/Getty; Gary Gershoff/Getty

Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to admissions consultant William Singer to falsely designate daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, 20, and Isabella Rose Giannulli, 21, as recruits to the USC crew team, though neither actually participated in the sport. On Oct. 22, the couple faced additional charges when the U.S. Department of Justice said that Loughlin, Giannulli, and nine other defendants “conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of USC to facilitate their children’s admission.”

They were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, in addition to their previous charges of money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud. They pleaded not guilty, but in October, they were charged further with one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. It is unclear how they will plead to that charge.

Fuller House
Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber in Fuller House
| Credit: Netflix

Recently, a source close to Loughlin told PEOPLE that she and Giannulli are feeling escalated stress as they await their trial.

“They feel like this is David versus Goliath. How do you go up against the federal government, when the government has decided to make an example out of you? How can you possibly move forward from this?” the source said about the couple.

“This stress is about to break them,” the source added.

Whatever may come, Loughlin’s Fuller House family is in her corner.

At the end of October, Bob Saget, who had previously avoided commenting on his costar’s ongoing legal problems, had only positive things to say about Loughlin in an interview with Fox News.

“I love the people I love, and people go through life, and stuff happens,” said Saget, 63. “For a while, I was saying, ‘No comment,’ and now there’s just no point in talking about it because I’ve answered it. What I would say is, I love the people I love, and I have empathy for people that are in my life for 35 years. I don’t cut people out.”

“I’ve never had any friends growing up,” the actor added. “So, I’m lucky to have any in the first place.”