Lori Loughlin is being slammed for her seemingly carefree attitude in the face of serious federal charges.
The actress is one of the dozens of parents caught up in a college admissions scandal. Loughlin is accused of paying the way for her daughters to gain admittance into the University of Southern California by faking athletic credentials. Although she faces the prospect of years in prison, the actress appeared to treat some of her court appointments like red carpet appearances.
Rolling Stone noted that Loughlin was spotted signing autographs for a group of fans that gathered outside a federal courtroom in Boston to meet her, with members of the group shouting "Free Aunt Becky!" and "Pay my tuition!" to her. The report noted that her behavior drew a sharp rebuke from some on social media, who say she fails to realize the gravity of the situation she faces, noting that she "doesn't seem to realize that she might go to jail."
Recent reports suggest that may be very likely. This week, TMZ reported that federal prosecutors are likely to recommend prison time both for Lori Loughlin and fellow actress Felicity Huffman, another actress caught up in the scandal. The report cited an unnamed federal investigator who said they do not want it to appear that they are going soft on the pair because they are rich and famous.
"You can't have people being treated differently because they have money," the official said. "That's how we got to this place. Every defendant will be treated the same."Any time spent behind bars could be fairly significant. A report from Hollywood Life noted that the charges and evidence against Loughlin are more serious than what Huffman faces. Brad Bailey, a criminal defense attorney from Boston, told the outlet that he believes Lori Loughlin could face up to four years behind bars.
"However, because the federal sentencing guidelines are advisory, this does not mean those are the sentences they will receive; they could be lower or higher. Even though Lori and Felicity face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted, they will not receive sentences anywhere close to that," Bailey said. "In fraud and most federal financial crimes cases, the applicable sentence is determined by the amount of intended financial loss or gain."
The investments made by Lori Loughlin were reportedly much more significant than Huffman. Prosecutors said Loughlin dished out $500,000 to bribe coaches at USC to have her daughters designated as potential athlete recruits for the school's rowing team, while Huffman is accused of spending $15,000 to have her daughter's SAT scores boosted.