Lori Loughlin, husband say government hiding evidence in college admission scandal
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband have filed new court papers alleging prosecutors are withholding information pertaining to their involvement in a sweeping nationwide college admissions scandal, records show.
Loughlin and fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have accused prosecutors of hindering their ability to properly prepare their arguments by neglecting to share witness interviews and exculpatory evidence with their legal team, according to court documents.
“This Court’s intervention is urgently needed,” reads the motion the compel production of material and exculpatory, which was filed Friday and later adds: “[T]he Government appears to be concealing exculpatory evidence that helps show that both Defendants believed all of the payments they made would go to USC itself – for legitimate, university-approved purposes – or to other legitimate charitable causes."
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A spokesperson for the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts declined FOX Business' request for comment.
Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying approximately $500,000 to create nonexistent positions for their daughters on the University of Southern California’s crew team even though neither had ever taken part in the sport. The parents were initially charged in March and have consistently pleaded not guilty.
The parents are allegedly part of a vast conspiracy ring that came to light in March in which more than 50 parents were charged in a federal investigation, now known as “Varsity Blues.”
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In October, the couple and nine others were charged for conspiracy to commit federal program bribery “by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission,” the Department of Justice said in a press release.
“In exchange for the bribes, employees of the university allegedly designated the defendants’ children as athletic recruits – with little or no regard for their athletic abilities – or as members of other favored admissions categories,” the release stated.
Prosecutors have charged both Loughlin and Giannulli with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
But the couple’s legal team is arguing they believed their payments were “legitimate donations” made through alleged mastermind William “Rick” Singer, and they did not intend for the money to be used as a bribe, court papers show.
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“The Government’s view, meanwhile, is that Singer informed his clients, including Giannulli and Loughlin, that their payments … would actually be bribes,” the motion states. “Given these competing theories of the case, any statements by Singer as to precisely what he told his clients about how their funds would be used are critically important.”
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The papers also bring into question USC’s intentions or involvement in the scheme, noting that if the university did, in fact, accept the money as legitimate donations, “then not only was there no bribery at USC, but also no fraud conspiracy at all.”
“Despite all this,” the 28-page motion states, “the Government has repeatedly denied that such evidence is material and has refused to disclose it.”