When Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for her role in the college admissions bribery scandal, the news was thought to be a mixed bag for actress Lori Loughlin, who will soon stand trial on similar -- though considerably more serious -- charges.
On the one hand, Huffman went to prison, which meant that prosecutors in Loughlin's case would almost certainly pursue jail time as well.
On the other hand, Huffman received a very light sentence that was regarded as a victory for her legal team.
Loughlin's lawyers likely hoped the sentence would get her a seat at the bargaining table, where she might be given a second chance to accept a plea deal.
But that hasn't happened.
Instead, judges have continued handing out federal prison sentences to wealthy parents charged with attempting to buy their kids' way into college.
Obviously, that's bad news for Loughlin.
And the latest verdict might provide an unpleasant look at what's in store for Loughlin.
Earlier this week, 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 was charged with lying about his two children's athletic backgrounds and paying out $450,000 in bribes to ensure that they would be admitted to USC.
Loughlin is accused of paying $500,000 in bribes in order to help convince the admissions board at USC that her daughters had spent several years rowing crew.
The cases have a lot in common, but they're different in one very important way -- MacFarlane pled guilty, whereas Loughlin did not.
And according to Good Morning America legal analyst Dan Abrams, that could be the difference between a few months and a few years behind bars.
“These cases are very similar,” says Abrams.
“It’s almost the same amount of money. It’s two kids. It’s faking the profiles, etc," he continues.
“Now this was a guilty plea,” Abrams adds.
“This was someone who’s accepted responsibility for it, and is still getting six months," he says.
"So you’ve got to believe if [Loughlin] were to take it to trial, with the additional charge that’s been thrown on her, if she was convicted, she’d be looking at a few years."
Abrams concludes ominously:
"I wouldn’t be surprised if she got 2 to 3 years if she’s convicted.”
A source close to Loughlin confirms that the actress and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, watched the MacFarlane case with great interest.
“There’s a similarity to the cases,” says the insider.
“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?" the source adds.
"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."
Now more than ever, it sounds like Aunt Becky will be going from Full House to the big house,