A federal judge on Friday denied a motion to dismiss the charges against actress Lori Loughlin, her husband and 12 others in the college admissions scandal case.
The actress and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as part of an alleged scheme to cheat on tests and admit students to leading institutions as athletes, regardless of their abilities.
The motion to dismiss largely focused on allegations by the defendant that the government had mishandled the investigation and had failed to turn over certain evidence in the case in a timely fashion, including iPhone notes by Rick Singer, the mastermind of the scheme.
“After consideration of the extensive briefing, affidavits and other information provided by the government and defendants, the Court is satisfied that the government has not lied to or misled the Court,” Judge Nathaniel Gorton wrote in part.
Regarding the defendants’ argument that some of Singer’s iPhone notes alleged that agents had spoken to him aggressively about his recorded calls with defendants – leading to investigatory misconduct – Groton wrote that this could be examined further at trial.
“Whether Singer’s calls in October 2018, were consistent with his prior representations of his “program” and whether they demonstrate that defendants believed their payments to be legitimate donations rather than bribes is an issue squarely for the jury after a trial on the merits,” Groton wrote.
The judge noted the government provided documents supporting their agents’ actions during the investigation.
“The affidavits categorically deny that any member for the investigative team ever directed Singer to lie, attempt to entrap suspects or elicit false admissions of guilt,” the judge wrote.
Judge says ‘ample time to prepare’
Regarding the allegation that the government had not turned over certain evidence quickly, Groton wrote that while the government’s failure to turn over the notes sooner was “irresponsible and misguided,” it was “not willful” and was partly explained by the government’s “imprudent underestimation of the context, relevance and potential exculpatory nature of the notes.”
The notes were turned over more than eight months before trial, which Groton writes is “ample time to prepare for trial with the benefit of the subject note and have not been unduly prejudiced by its late disclosure.”
In his order, Groton also denied a defense request for call recordings between Singer and the defendants to be excluded from evidence and a defense motion for an evidentiary hearing.
The trial of Loughlin, Giannulli and six other parents is set to begin October 5.
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 as part of a scheme with Singer and a University of Southern California athletics official to get their two daughters into the university as members of the crew team, even though they did not participate in crew.
The actress, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and her husband have been charged with three counts of conspiracy: 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.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.