The judge handling the college admissions bribery case against Full House star Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, turned down their latest bid to have the case tossed. Judge Nathaniel Gorton ruled on Friday that federal agents did not commit any misconduct during their investigation. Giannulli and Loughlin have been accused of paying William "Rick" Singer $500,000 to help get their daughters accepted into USC.
Loughlin and Giannulli's attorneys argued federal agents entraped them by coaching Singer to "bend the truth" in conversations with the couple, reports Variety. However, Gorton disagreed, and denied the motion to dismiss the charges. "After consideration of the extensive briefing, affidavits and other information provided by the government and defendants, the Court is satisfied that the government has not lied to or misled the Court," Gorton wrote. He said the agents were trying "to get Singer to corroborate, not fabricate, evidence" and noted the defendants' attorneys could cross-examine Singer during the trial.
The government did not get away without any criticism from Gorton though. He previously called the allegations "serious and disturbing," so he sought an explanation for what the agents did. "The government did not commit misconduct in this case," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Frank wrote last month. "It did not fabricate evidence. It did not entrap any defendant. And it did not suborn the commission of a crime."
The allegations of misconduct by the agents first came up in February when prosecutors finally gave the defense notes from Singer, Variety reported at the time. In the notes, Singer claimed federal agents wanted him to "bend the truth" in phone calls with clients that were already being recorded by the government. Singer wrote that he was told not to refer to the payments as "donations." Loughlin and Giannulli's lawyers have said their clients believed they were making real donations and argued Singer's notes showed evidence of entrapment. When Frank responded to these allegations last month, he included a new FBI memo about an April meeting with Singer, who has pleaded guilty.
"At the time he never considered what he was doing was a bribe and he had several arguments with the agents over the word bribe," the memo reads. "He thought he was doing something wrong but legal, but didn’t know for sure until his attorney explained that it was illegal. Singer stated that he always knew he was doing a quid pro quo, and now he understands that is the same as bribery."
Singer told the FBI agents the conversations the defendants' attorneys cited were not with Loughlin or Giannulli. "Singer noted that the agents didn’t do anything wrong," the memo reads. "He explained that he just didn’t understand at the time."
On Friday, Groton also denied a defense request to have Singer's calls with clients suppressed. He also denied a motion for an evidentiary hearing. Prosecutors say Loughlin and Giannulli paid Singer $500,000 to have their daughters admitted to USC as crew recruits, even though they did not participate in the sport. The trial will start in October.