The fashion designer pleaded not guilty in April to charges of mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy
The fashion designer turned 56 on Tuesday, three months after he and the Fuller House actress were charged in the scheme that has also ensnared high-profile figures like actress Felicity Huffman.
Giannulli — whose daughters Isabella, 20, and Olivia, 19, marked his 55th birthday with Instagram tributes but were silent on social media this year — has been lying low since the scandal broke, with a source telling PEOPLE in March that the entire family “wants to hide from the world.”
Giannulli and Loughlin, 54, are accused of paying $500,000 to designate their daughters as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, despite the fact that neither participated in crew.
Prosecutors alleged in the original criminal complaint against the couple that they paid admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer and his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (“KWF”), which prosecutors said was actually a front for accepting bribes. Singer has since admitted his role as the ringleader of the scam and has pleaded guilty to multiple charges.
Both Giannulli and his wife are facing charges of mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison on each charge.
A source told PEOPLE at the time that the couple entered the plea as a last resort, and considered it “the only choice they’ve got.”
“I think [Loughlin] and her lawyers underestimated how motivated the prosecution was,” the source said. “So she didn’t plead, and then they hit her with another charge. Now she’s willing to negotiate, but the prosecution says that the deal is off the table. So the only choice they’ve got is to plead not guilty. That’s all they can do.”
In the weeks since, Giannulli and Loughlin have gotten to work building a “vigorous” defense for their case, an insider said late last month.
“Lori in particular has become extremely well-versed in the case,” the source told PEOPLE. “She feels like she’s got a valid defense, and that when all the evidence comes out, that she won’t be found guilty. She still is looking into the avenues to defend herself against what she thinks is a meritless charge.”
Despite Loughlin’s hopefulness, a source added that the latest legal developments are “not great” for couple’s marriage, but that they are “trying to get through the legal hurdle as a team.”
The strain on their marriage comes after sources told PEOPLE that the couple’s friends were distancing themselves amid their involvement in the high-profile case.
“Lori and Mossimo are finding out quickly who their real friends are,” the insider said. “It’s not like they are the victims of a crime. They are the crime. Many of their friends don’t want to be associated with them right now.”
Giannulli and Loughlin, who married in 1997, were among 50 people charged in the scandal by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.