The judge handling Lori Loughlin’s college admissions case has responded to her claims of government misconduct, describing the allegations as “disturbing.”
Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are both facing numerous charges related to allegations they bribed their daughters' way ino the University of Southern California. Both have pleaded not guilty, and have recently claimed that federal agents engaged in misconduct by instructing William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind behind the scheme who worked with the FBI to incriminate his clients, to lie about what he initially told them.
In his response issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton called Loughlin’s claims “serious and disturbing,” PEOPLE reports.
"The Court considers the allegations in Singer's October notes to be serious and disturbing," Gorton’s response reads. "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."
Gorton has not yet made a decision as to whether or not to dismiss the case, but he has issued a deadline of May 1 for prosecutors to respond, according to PEOPLE.
In their motion to have the case dismissed, lawyers for Loughlin, Giannulli, and a dozen other parents previously pointed to Singer’s notes regarding his conversations with federal agents in 2018, according to a USA Today report. Singer said then that the agents were “loud and abrasive,” and were pushing him to “bend the truth” during monitored phone calls with his clients by changing how he initially described the arrangement to them.
“They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where there money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment,” part of Singer’s notes reportedly read.
In their response, prosecutors argued that Singer's note did not absolve any of the defendants of their guilt, Yahoo! News reports. They wrote, in part, “Just because neither Singer nor the defendants actually used the word ‘bribe’ to describe the purported donations doesn’t mean that they were legitimate.”
Loughlin and Giannulli stand accused of paying Singer $500,000 to have their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli admitted to USC as crew team recruits, despite neither student being a rower. Photos released by the prosecution earlier this month show the girls, with their faces blurred out, posing on row machines in exercise clothing — photos that prosecutors say Giannulli supplied after Singer requested them in order to build fake athletic profiles online, according to the New York Post.
The couple have maintained their innocence, pleading not guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy to commit fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, CNN reports. Their trial is scheduled to begin in October.
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