Lori Loughlin is 'Discouraged' and 'Concerned' About Other Parents' Sentences in College Scandal

Steve Helling

Ever since defendants began to plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli have paid close attention to the others’ jail sentences, trying to determine whether these might predict the couple’s own fate.

A recent sentence handed down to a California dad has left Loughlin and Giannuli feeling “discouraged” and “concerned,” a source close to Loughlin and Giannulli tells PEOPLE.

On Wednesday, 56-year-old real estate executive Toby MacFarlane was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

MacFarlane lied about his children’s athletic background to get them into the University of Southern California, a judge found. He worked with William “Rick” Singer to bribe his two children’s way into the private university. In addition to his guilty plea, MacFarlane has paid about $82,000 in back taxes and interest to the IRS.

According to his plea, McFarlane falsely designated his daughter as a soccer star and his son as a basketball standout — even lying about his son’s height. He ended up paying $450,000 to secure their spots at the school. 

Loughlin and Giannulli have been accused of doing nearly the same thing. They 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.

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“There’s a similarity to the cases,” says the source close to Loughlin. “And they’re smart enough to see that. So they’re very concerned. If this guy pleaded guilty and was still given six months, what does that mean for them? If they’re convicted, their sentences are going to be very severe. Also, they face more charges than Mr. McFarlane did. They’re very discouraged.”

Mossimo Giannulli, Lori Loughlin | Donato Sardella/Getty Images for LACMA

In addition to charges of money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud, Loughlin and Giannulli were handed an additional federal charge last month: one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.

They now face up to 45 years in prison.

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Felicity Huffman | Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty

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Meanwhile, Felicity Huffman was released three days early from her 14-day prison sentence in October. Unlike MacFarlane, the Desperate Housewives star didn’t lie about her daughter’s athletic ability but instead paid Singer $15,000 to have a proctor change her SAT answers after she took the test.

Huffman is now serving community service, of which she was sentenced to 250 hours.

As the case against Loughlin and Giannulli moves forward, the source says they’re trying to think about other things. “It’s very hard for Lori not to obsess about this case and what her future will be,” says the source. “She knows that she should focus on all the good things in her life, but it’s almost impossible for her to do it. This is hanging over her head every single day.”