Facing a trial in October, if Lori Loughlin thought prosecutors in the college bribery scheme were going to roll over amidst recent allegations of “extraordinary government misconduct” and toss out charges that could see the former Full House star behind bars for up to 50 years, she, her husband and several other defendants received a harsh reality check today from the feds.
“The defendants’ core allegations of misconduct are premised on a straw man: that this case is only about bribery,” proclaimed the response from the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts’ office filed this afternoon (READ IT HERE). “It is not,” added U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in reply to the motion by Loughlin, her fashion designer spouse Mossimo Giannulli, STX Entertainment backer William McGlashan and others to see their Operation Varsity Blues troubles dismissed or at least put under the scrutiny of an evidentiary hearing.
In the scorching 36-page filing, prosecutors admitted it was a “mistake” not to turn over evidence earlier. However, after than quick apology, the feds also unveiled new documentation that directly counters Loughlin and Giannulli’s persistence that they never knew the half a million they handed over to former call center manager boss William “Rick” Singer and his phony Key Worldwide Foundation were anything other than “legitimate donations” for university programs.
Like a February filing from the government, this latest document is peppered with selections from years of emails between Singer, Giannulli and Loughlin.
The real red meat may be in the very distinct instructions the couple were given by the fake charity boss throughout the whole appalling affair. Starting back in 2015 Singer told Loughlin and Giannulli who to pay, how much, what to call a “donation”, the need getting an “action photo” of their youngest daughter as a part of a fake “coxswain profile” and even what to say to the IRS.
“Singer later called Loughlin, telling her that if the IRS called her, ‘nothing has been said about the girls, your donations helping the girls get into USC to do crew even though they didn’t do crew,'” Wednesday’s detailed filing notes of recordings and recollections of conversations between the parties. “So nothing like that has been ever mentioned”
In the late 2018 call, the feds say “Loughlin asked: “So we just – so we just have to say we made a donation to your foundation and that’s it, end of story?’ Singer responded: ‘That is correct.”
If prosecutors wanted to make sure there wasn’t any confusion that Loughlin and Giannulli knew they were pulling a fast one, they did so by providing evidence that widens the circle of the couple’s deceit.
“In April 2018, Giannulli reprimanded a high school counselor for suggesting to USC that his daughter was not, in fact, a coxswain,” the new filing discloses. “Giannulli assured the counselor, falsely, that she was. In an email to Giannulli, the counselor wrote that he had informed USC “that you had visited this morning and affirmed for me that [your younger daughter] is truly a coxswain.'”
Not a lot of wiggle room for ignorance there, it seems.
“The defendants are charged with conspiring to engage in a single, sweeping scheme to gain admission for their children to college by, among other things, lying about their academic and athletic qualifications so that complicit coaches, induced by bribes styled as ‘donations’ to their programs, could purport to recruit them as elite athletes,” the filing by the feds explains of the well-heeled parents, in an investigation that has already seen Felicity Huffman and others imprisoned.
Last month, Loughlin and Giannulli’s Latham & Watkins lawyers formally sought the dismissal after insisting earlier this year that previously withheld evidence showed FBI agents pressured scam charity boss Singer into falsely implicating the duo and others and their big bucks efforts to get their daughters into top tier schools.
Having formally plead not guilty in mid-April after turning down a government deal, Loughlin and Giannulli are accused in the wealthy suspects probe of paying “bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their offspring designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” according to the 200-page indictment made public on March 12 last year that snared over 30 parents nationwide.
“The defendants’ brief, despite its comprehensive catalogue of alleged government misconduct, tries to sanitize their actions by ignoring any mention of the larger fraud scheme within which the alleged bribery occurred,” U.S. Attorney Lelling concludes in today’s comprehensive filing. “Their claims, and the evidence in this case, must be viewed in the context of the actual indictment, not the imaginary one they would prefer to fight.”
With courts curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton will decide in the coming weeks if the scheduled October 5 trial will occur or not.
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