The judge in the Lori Loughlin college admissions case said on Friday that he is disturbed by defense allegations of misconduct in the case, and asked prosecutors for further briefing.
Loughlin’s attorneys have asked the judge to throw out the case, arguing that federal agents had pressured the cooperating witness, admissions consultant Rick Singer, to entrap parents in criminal conduct. The defense has cited Singer’s notes, in which he complained that an agent was asking him to “bend the truth” in recorded calls with his clients.
“The Court considers the allegations in Singer’s October notes to be serious and disturbing,” wrote U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton. “While government agents are permitted to coach cooperating witnesses during the course of an investigation, they are not permitted to suborn the commission of a crime.”
Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are facing bribery, fraud and money laundering charges, for allegedly paying $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to USC. They are set to go on trial in October.
The defense has argued that the couple believed they were making a legitimate donation to the school, but that government agents coached Singer not to offer that explanation in the recorded calls.
“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,” Singer wrote.
The government has said that the totality of the evidence shows that the couple — and the other parents awaiting trial — knew full well that they were engaged in fraud. Among other things, the government alleges that Loughlin and Giannulli knowingly concocted a fake athletic profile to have their daughters admitted as crew recruits.
In his three-page order on Friday, Gorton instructed prosecutors to reply specifically to the claims that Singer had been coached to improperly incriminate his clients. Prosecutors have previously said there was no need to investigate the claim because the agents knew the charge to be untrue, and that there was “nothing to investigate.”
The college admissions case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS.