Attorneys for actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband allege that newly filed papers could clear their clients and other parents fighting federal charges in Boston related to the college admissions scandal, according to court documents obtained Thursday.
In a motion filed Wednesday, lawyers for the “Full House” actress and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, said that the couple believed the $500,000 they allegedly paid to scheme mastermind William “Rick” Singer’s purported charity was a legitimate donation to USC’s athletics program — and not a bribe to a rowing coach to ensure their daughters’ admission to the school as crew recruits.
Loughlin’s attorneys allege that FBI investigators asked Singer to lie in 2018 by telling parents in recorded calls that their money would be used for donations not bribes.
“Loud and abrasive call with agents,” Singer allegedly wrote in his notes. “They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where their money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment.”
The defense filing in Boston federal court sought to postpone the forthcoming trial, however a federal judge Thursday set an Oct. 5 trial date for Loughlin, Giannulli and six other parents accused of bribing officials at University of Southern California.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of conspiring to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of USC to allow their daughters’ admission.
In exchange for the bribes, employees of the university allegedly designated the defendants’ two children as athletic recruits — with little or no regard for their athletic abilities.
The couple will stand alongside six other parents charged in the case: Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane and Todd Blake, John Wilson, Dr. Homa Zadeh — a USC professor of dentistry — and Robert Zangrillo. Jury selection will start Sept. 28. Seven other parents will go to trial Jan. 11, federal prosecutors said.
Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and money-laundering charges in the scandal.
The celebrity couple allegedly paid $500,000 as part of a scheme with Singer and a USC athletics official to get their two daughters into the university as members of the crew team, even though they did not participate in crew. As part of the scheme, the parents sent Singer, a Newport Beach businessman, photos of their daughters on a rowing machine, according to the criminal complaint.
Prosecutors said that Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughters were accepted at the university, although they are no longer enrolled.
Singer, who ran a for-profit college counseling business called The Edge College & Career Network, also known as the Key, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government’s investigation.
Dozens of parents and college athletic coaches were implicated in the 52-defendant scandal. Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman was released Oct. 25 from a low-security federal prison camp in Northern California 11 days into a 14-day sentence handed down last September for paying to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers on a college-entrance exam.
Huffman, 57, was also ordered to spend a year on supervised release, pay a $30,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service. The “Desperate Housewives” actress was the first parent to be sentenced in connection with the wide-ranging college-admissions cheating scandal, a probe dubbed “Varsity Blues.”