Parents in college admissions scandal call for charges to be dismissed

Lawrence Kim
March 26, 2020

Attorneys for Full House star Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli have asked a federal judge to throw out their college admissions bribery case, alleging misconduct and entrapment.

Defense attorneys for the the famous couple and other parents still fighting the charges say the case can not stand because investigators bullied their informant into lying and then concealed evidence that would bolster the parents' claims of innocence. "That misconduct can not be ignored", the lawyers wrote.

The US attorney's office in Boston declined to comment.

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters, 20-year-old Olivia Jade and 21-year-old Isabella Rose, admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, though neither woman had ever participated in the sport.

Attorneys for Loughlin, Giannulli and other parents accused in the "Operation Varsity Blues" scheme told U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton that the behavior of prosecutors in the case was grounds for dismissal in a court filing on Wednesday. "As detailed in the notes, agents directed Singer not to mention on the calls that he had previously told the clients their payments would be 'donation [s]' that would go 'to the [university] program [and] not the coach, '.in other words, that their payments were not unlawful bribes". Another six parents are scheduled to face trial in January.

The documents claim that, in November 2018, "Singer called Loughlin and similarly used language to make it seem she knew the donations were bribes", after allegedly leading the couple to initially believe they were making legitimate donations.

The docs further state that Rick Singer, the ringleader behind the college admissions scandal, had discussions with FBI investigators in which they "directed him" to make phone calls to his clients in order to get incriminating statements.

"The notes state that agents browbeat Singer and instructed him to lie in order to elicit misleading evidence that was inconsistent with the actual facts that Singer had explained to agents", the filing states.

Short story. the defense says the government has lied, fabricated incriminating evidence and intentionally withheld evidence it was supposed to turn over that tended to show these were not bribes.

"For government agents to coerce an informant into lying on recorded calls to generate false inculpatory evidence against investigative targets-and to then knowingly prosecute those targets using that false evidence-is governmental malfeasance of the worst kind", the lawyers wrote.

Almost two dozen other parents have pleaded guilty in the case, including "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced to two weeks in prison for paying $15,000 to have a proctor correct her daughter's SAT answers.

Prosecutors misbehaved by failing to present the notes to the defense until last month, the attorneys argue, in an alleged attempt to coax the defendants into pleading guilty.

The defense wants the charges dismissed. or at the very least they want all the Federal Bureau of Investigation recordings ruled inadmissible because they were allegedly obtained dishonestly.

In response, the prosecution said that they "scrupulously adhered to its discovery obligations" in regard to providing Singer's notes to the defense, and are not "withholding any exculpatory evidence".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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