Actress Lori Loughlin, husband Mossimo Giannulli and other parents involved in the college admissions bribery case moved for a judge to dismiss charges against them on Wednesday, March 25, according to documents obtained by In Touch. Defense attorneys for the celebrity couple and other parents claim there was “extraordinary” misconduct, which “threatens grave harm to defendants and the integrity of this proceeding.” The documents point to key informant Rick Singer being pressured into lying and prosecutors “buried” evidence that could help aid their plea of innocence.
“That misconduct cannot be ignored,” the lawyers wrote in documents obtained by In Touch. The defense asked that if the judge doesn’t dismiss the case altogether, they should prevent prosecutors from using the “tainted records” at trial and order a hearing to “uncover the full truth about the recordings and the government’s efforts to fabricate and conceal evidence.”
The defense says prosecutors withheld evidence that would align with the parents’ claims that they thought their payments to Singer were being used as legitimate donations to the universities versus bribes for coaches or officials. The evidence specifically in question comes from the scheme’s mastermind.
Notes from Singer claimed that FBI agents yelled at him and coerced him to say that he told his clients that the money was being used for bribes.
“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, according to the filing. The notes were first discovered by prosecutors in October 2018 but were not handed over to the defense until February 2020.
The defense lawyers claim Singer’s notes are enough proof to show that he was bullied into fabricating evidence and misleading his clients into agreeing that they knew the payments were bribes. The lawyers also say that prosecutors “buried” the evidence after previously claiming they had provided everything they needed to.
Prosecutors said they waited until February to turn over Singer’s notes because the government regarded them as privileged and did not review them further. However, prosecutors also claim that Singer calling the payments bribes or donations does not matter because it was still an illegal quid pro quo.
“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’ statement continued. “While withholding the notes and many other examples of material exculpatory information, the government attempted to coerce defendants into pleading guilty by threatening that if they did not, they would face additional charges.”
The U.S. attorney’s office in Boston declined Wednesday to comment.
Lori, 55, and Mossimo, 56, are scheduled to go on trial in October 2020 after being accused of spending $500,000 to have their daughters, Olivia and Isabella, accepted into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits. The pair pleaded not guilty to the charges in April 2019, and they followed suit by pleading not guilty again to the additional charges against them in October.
Federal prosecutors released Olivia’s alleged rowing resume in February 2020. Documents obtained by In Touch say that the YouTuber earned one bronze medal, two gold medals and two silver medals for participating in crew between 2014 and 2016. The resume also alleged that Isabella was “on our roster and fills the position of our #4 boat.”
Lori and Mossimo will stand trial with six other parents. Another six parents will be facing trial in January 2021. Almost two dozen other parents have pleaded guilty in the college admissions bribery case. Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison for paying $15,000 to have a proctor change her daughter’s SAT answers.
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