Federal judge on Friday refused to dismiss charges against actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli and other prominent parents accused of cheating the college admissions process, siding with the side prosecutors who denied that investigators fabricated evidence.
US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton has rejected a defense proposal to dismiss the indictment concerning alleged misconduct by FBI agents in the case that rocked the world of higher education.
Loughlin and Giannulli are expected to be tried in October, accused of paying $ 500,000 to have their daughters join the University of Southern California as crew members, even though none of the girls were rowers. They denied paying bribes and said they thought their payments were legitimate gifts.
An email asking for comments on the judge’s decision was sent to a couple lawyer on Friday.
They were among 50 people charged last year in the so-called “Operation Varsity Blues” case. Authorities said wealthy parents paid huge sums to guarantee admission to elite schools as bogus sports recruits or to have someone cheat on their entrance exams.
The judge’s decision came after he ordered prosecutors to explain the iPhone notes written by the brain admitted to the confessional cheating scheme – Rick Singer – while he was secretly working with the government in October 2018 .
In his notes, Singer wrote that investigators told him to lie so the parents would make incriminating statements over the phone. The officers asked him to say that he had told the parents that the payments were bribes, rather than gifts, according to the notes made public in the legal documents.
“They keep asking me to tell a scheme and not repeat what I said to my clients about where the money is going – on the program and not the coach and it was ‘a donation and they want it to be a payment,’ said the singer. written, according to court documents.
Gorton called Singer’s claims in his notes “serious and disturbing.”
The defense argued that the notes show that the officers intimidated Singer to fabricate evidence by inducing the parents to wrongly accept that the payments were bribes.
The agents of the case denied pressuring Singer to lie and said that they had asked him to be more explicit with new clients who had not already followed the bribery plan. Prosecutors said Singer had taken the notes when he had not yet fully accepted responsibility for his crimes. Prosecutors also said it didn’t matter if Singer called bribes or donations, as it was still illegal consideration.
The singer pleaded guilty and was to be a crucial witness at the trials. He began cooperating with investigators in September 2018 and secretly recorded his phone calls with the parents to file the case against them.
Nearly two dozen parents have already pleaded guilty to the case, including “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman. She served nearly two weeks in prison after admitting to paying $ 15,000 to have someone correct her daughter’s entrance exam answers.