Lori Loughlin and her husband have urged a federal judge to dismiss charges against them and dozens of other parents in the college admissions bribery scandal, arguing that the government improperly entrapped them.
Attorneys for Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, contend that the government manipulated admissions consultant Rick Singer into ensnaring the parents in the investigation. They also contend that prosecutors then withheld the evidence of the misconduct for nearly nine months.
Loughlin and Giannulli are scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 5 in federal court in Boston on charges that they paid $500,000 in bribes to gain admission for their daughters into USC. The girls were admitted as crew recruits, even though they did not participate in the sport.
The defense first raised its concerns about the government’s handling of the case in a filing last month.
Singer ran Edge College and Career Network, otherwise known as the Key, which offered admissions counseling and SAT prep to wealthy clients. Though he also offered legitimate services, Singer has acknowledged that he paid bribes to athletic coaches and hired “proctors” to create fraudulent SAT scores. In the fall of 2018, investigators approached Singer and got him to agree to cooperate with its investigation by recording his phone calls with parents.
According to the defense, prosecutors belatedly turned over Singer’s notes from the investigation, in which he complained that the government was preventing him from telling parents that the payments were legitimate.
“They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where their money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment,” he wrote. “Essentially they are asking me to bend the truth.”
The defense contends that the parents were under the impression that the payments were donations to the school. The defense filing quotes Loughlin from a recorded conversation with Singer, in which she expressions confusion about the arrangement.
“Yeah, no, no, I — I had questions about [U]SC. I was like, ‘Well, maybe the way they got in you’re not supposed to get in like that, I don’t know, like can you,’ but Moss was like, ‘No, you can make a donation, it’s OK, like I don’t know.’” she said. “Uh, yeah I don’t know. But it’s all on the up-and-up (inaudible) right?”
The defense also contends that the government repeatedly denied possession of exculpatory evidence, and only turned over the notes after many other parents had pleaded guilty. The government has said it only turned over the information recently because it was initially concerned that the notes had been written at Singer’s attorney’s behest, and therefore constituted confidential attorney-client communications.
The defense team, led by William J. Trach, argued that the misconduct warrants dismissal of the case, or at least suppression of the recorded calls.
“It brings no joy to file a motion of this nature,” they wrote. “But the extraordinary Government misconduct presented in this case threatens grave harm to Defendants and the integrity of this proceeding. That misconduct cannot be ignored.”