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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Lori Loughlin was all smiles ahead of a federal court appearance, signing autographs for fans as she prepared to face a judge after being indicted in the largest college admissions cheating scandal ever prosecuted.

The 54-year-old former "Fuller House" star, as well as fellow actress Felicity Huffman, are among more than a dozen parents who appeared in court in Boston on Wednesday to face charges for allegedly paying hefty bribes to get their children admitted to some of the nation's top universities.

Loughlin and Huffman did not enter pleas during their brief appearances. Loughlin was reported to be in a friendly mood while at the court.

Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, both made a brief appearance in a Boston court on Wednesday.BRIAN SNYDER / Reuters

NBC legal analyst Ari Melber believed the court appearances signaled the group could potentially fight the charges all the way to a trial, given that no type of plea deal has been announced.

"It looks like they're fighting, and they have their reputations on the line, as we know,'' Melber said on TODAY Wednesday. "Obviously there's a lot of bad stuff on the record. Can they argue that maybe they were paying for services or advice they didn't realize just what this advice amounted to?"

However, refusing a plea and taking it to trial could potentially result in more severe consequences, including jail time.

"It's hard to imagine that the prosecutors want to put many people in jail for a long period of time for being parents,'' Melber said. "I think the question for people fighting is can they get off, or do they look at potentially harsher sentences ... for fighting all along the way if they're later convicted."

Loughlin, who was released on a $1 million bond in March, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud for allegedly paying $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as elite rowers, even though neither had ever participated in the sport.

Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to arrange for someone to cheat on her daughter's SAT exam to boost her score.

Felicity Huffman leaves court following her appearance on Wednesday.JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP /Getty Images

The difference in the sums should not be a factor when it comes to the legal consequences they face, Melber said.

"It shouldn't matter that much, because the big question here is were you paying to try to steal someone else's seat in college, not did you have a good or bad price on stealing the seat,'' he said.

Loughlin has already been dropped by the Hallmark Channel and also will not appear on the fifth season of Netflix's "Fuller House," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Her former "Fuller House" co-star Candace Cameron Bure expressed her support for Loughlin on TODAY Tuesday.

"I’ve already said that we are family, and we stand by each other and pray for each other, and we’ll always be there for each other,'' Bure said.