It’s not a get out of jail free card, but Lori Loughlin just got a glimmer of hope in her efforts to halt federal prosecutors’ aims to see the once Full House star stand trial later this year for her alleged role in the college bribery scheme known as “Operation Varsity Blues.”
Facing around 50 years behind bars and millions in fines for supposedly handing out big bucks and fake qualifications to fake charities to get her offspring into a top-notch school under extremely false pretenses, Loughlin, her husband Mossimo Giannulli and several other well-heeled defendants saw U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton demand on Friday that the government “respond specifically … to the allegations of investigatorial misconduct” (READ IT HERE).
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“The Court considers the allegations in Singer’s October notes to be serious and disturbing,” the Boston-based Judge Gorton said in a memorandum and order today of evidence that FBI agents leaned heavily on phony Key Worldwide Foundation boss William “Rick” Singer into falsely implicating the duo and others in having committed pricey criminal acts to land their kids acceptance at choice colleges.
“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,” Judge Norton added.
In the three-page document, Judge Norton says he wants additional briefing from U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts’ office ASAP. Loughlin, Giannulli and the others set to stand trial in October have until May 1 to respond to the feds’ latest response.
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on today’s order, when contacted by Deadline.
Judge Norton’s gesture of possibility for Loughlin comes just over a week after the feds submitted a hardcore 36-page document ripping the parental defendants for trying to get their respective cases dismissed under such a pretense.
After a quick apology that is was a “mistake” not to turn over now cooperating witness Singer’s notes to defense lawyers earlier, prosecutors went to town in the April 8 filing. Long story short, the feds piled on more documentation that directly counters former When Calls The Heart actor Loughlin and fashion designer Giannulli’s insistence that they never knew the hundreds of thousands of dollars, faked photos, sleight of hand accounting and more they handed over to former call center manager Singer were for anything other than “legitimate donations” for university programs.
Having formally pleaded not guilty in mid-April last year 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 Andrew Lelling declared his office’s reply to Loughlin, Giannulli and the likes of STX Entertainment backer William McGlashan and their legal teams. “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.”
Let’s see what the feds have to say now, after Judge Gorton just put them on notice.
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