Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Lori Loughlin

A federal judge on Friday denied Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli’s motion to dismiss charges related to the college admissions scandal. Attorneys for Loughlin, Giannulli and several other parents had argued federal agents had coached the consultant at the center of the case to “bend the truth,” but Judge Nathaniel Gorton on Friday ruled the prosecutors’ actions did not constitute misconduct.

According to the court documents, government agents approached the alleged ringleader of the scheme, William “Rick” Singer, six months into the investigation, and he agreed to wear a wiretap and discuss the alleged bribery. On October 2, 2018, Singer wrote in his iPhone Notes app that government agents “strong-armed” him and instructed him to lie to elicit incriminating information, the court documents said.

The Assistant United States’ Attorney (AUSA) reviewed the contents on Singer’s iPhone between October 2018 and March 2019, but did not reveal it to the court until February 2020, the court documents said. The government has since admitted this was a mistake. Additionally, although Singer was told not to delete any data from his phone, the court documents said Singer apparently disobeyed this order and deleted correspondence with the defendants. 

Gorton admonished the prosecutors for failing to produce the notes earlier, calling it “irresponsible and misguided.” But, he wrote,  it “was not, however, willful and is partly explained (but not excused) by the AUSAs’ imprudent underestimation of the context, relevance and potential exculpatory nature of the notes. More importantly, the note was disclosed more than eight months before the scheduled trial and before defendants.”

Loughlin and Giannulli are part of a group of more than 50 parents and college officials accused of participating in the biggest college admission scandal in U.S. history. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California. Their lawyers have argued the couple thought they were giving “legitimate donations” to USC or to Singer’s “purported” charity. 

At least 20 parents have already pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the scandal, including actress Felicity Huffman, who has already served her 14-day sentence

Sarah Barth contributed reporting.

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