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Prosecutors Admit ‘Mistake’ In Lori Loughlin College Bribery Case, But Deny Withholding Evidence, Entrapment
Prosecutors acknowledge they should've turned over material to the defense sooner, but called recent claims by Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli’s lawyers “demonstrably false.”
Prosecutors trying the case against Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli have denied intentionally withholding evidence, as well as entrapment claims, even as they admitted to making a "mistake" during the case.
Lawyers for the couple asked a judge last month to dismiss their case on the grounds of “government misconduct,” alleging that prosecutors purposefully failed to share with them evidence that would help the defendants, specifically notes that William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind behind the infamous college admissions bribery scheme, took on his phone while working with FBI agents. The defense believes that those notes — in which Singer writes that “loud and abrasive” pushed him to “bend the truth” by painting his clients’ bribes as legitimate donations — prove the couple’s claims that they believed that what they were doing was, in fact, legal.
In their response on Wednesday, prosecutors refuted the defense’s claims, Yahoo! News reports. While they admitted that the notes should have been shared earlier on during the proceedings, they claimed that the fact that they weren’t was simply as oversight on their part.
“In a sprawling, fast-moving prosecution, the failure to produce the notes earlier was simply a mistake,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven E. Frank wrote in the response. “The defendants have suffered no prejudice, and their suggestion that the notes somehow ‘exonerate’ them, or reveal that the evidence against them was fabricated, is demonstrably false.”
The prosecution also denied that Singer’s notes prove entrapment, and claim instead that, when he wrote them, he had not yet taken responsibility for the scheme, according to Yahoo! News. They went on to suggest that the wording Singer used is largely irrelevant, writing, “Just because neither Singer nor the defendants actually used the word ‘bribe’ to describe the purported donations doesn’t mean that they were legitimate.”
“They were bribes, regardless of what Singer and the defendants called them, because, as the defendants knew, the corrupt insiders were soliciting the money in exchange for recruiting unqualified students, in violation of their duty of honest services to their employer,” Frank continued.
Loughlin and Giannulli are among dozens of wealthy parents who were charged last year for their alleged involvement in a multi-level college admissions scheme spearheaded by Singer. The couple stands accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters admitted into the University of Southern California as row team recruits, despite neither student being an athlete. Prosecutors have alleged that Loughlin and Giannulli worked with Singer to present the girls as athletes, even going so far as to have online athletic profiles created for them and staging photographs of the girls using row machines.
Those photos were released by the prosecution this week, and show Olivia Jade, 20, and Isabella Rose, 21, according to the New York Post. The girls’ faces are blurred out in the photos, and they are shown wearing workout clothes and using row machines. Giannulli is alleged to have sent the photos to Singer after Singer sent an email to the couple informing them that he’d be creating an online coxswain portfolio for Isabella and that it’d help if he had a photo of her “on an ERG in workout clothes like a real athlete,” the outlet reports. Giannulli is alleged to have responded with, “Fantastic. Will get all.”
Loughlin and Giannulli have maintained their innocence and have claimed that they genuinely believed that the money they paid to Singer was a legitimate donation. They face a slew of charges, including bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud, to which they have pleaded not guilty, according to a CNN report. Their trial is slated to begin in October.