Back in March 2019, Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were indicted in the college admissions scandal for allegedly paying to have their two daughters designated as rowing recruits at the University of Southern California. The couple's trial is set for October, but Loughlin is now attempting to get her charges dismissed.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Loughlin and 13 other parents involved in the case asked a judge on Wednesday to dismiss the charges against them, arguing that prosecutors on the case are guilty of misconduct. The parents' argument is centered around notes that Rick Singer, the scheme's ringleader, wrote in his iPhone in which he detailed interactions with government agents who handled his cooperation in the case. The parents claim that Singer had told his clients that their payments were donations to university accounts and that he was "browbeat" by prosecutors and agents and was instructed to "tell a fib" and say that the payments were bribes.
Singer had agreed in September 2018 to help federal authorities in Boston build cases against both current and former clients. Two weeks after his cooperation began, Singer spoke with a prospective client and discussed making a "donation to the coach," according to a transcript of the call.
"Essentially, um, that donation is going to the — you know, to the program," Singer told the man. After their conversation, Singer wrote that he had a "loud and abrasive call" with his handlers.
They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where there money was going — to the program not the coach," he wrote, adding that he told clients the payments were donations but "they want it to be a payment."
"The extraordinary government misconduct presented in this case threatens grave harm to defendants and the integrity of this proceeding," Loughlin's Latham & Watkins attorneys said, via Deadline. "That misconduct cannot be ignored."
Prosecutors have not responded to Wednesday's filings and U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton gave the U.S. Attorney's office until March 27 to present their side.
Loughlin and Giannulli were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and in October, they were also charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. They did not accept a plea deal and pleaded not guilty to their initial charges as well as the new charges and are now facing up to 45 years in prison. The couple, along with six other parents who have maintained their innocence, will go on trial beginning October 5. The other six parents who have not pleaded guilty will go on trial in January.
Twenty-two parents have pleaded guilty in the scheme and all but one were sentenced to varying prison terms. Felicity Huffman served 14 days last year and the longest was nine months for Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of global investment firm Pimco. Singer has pleaded guilty to four felonies and will be sentenced at a later date.
Photo Credit: Getty / Boston Globe