Lori Loughlin Defense in College Bribery Scandal Revealed as Second Former Coach Pleads Guilty

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
June 4, 2019USshare
Lori Loughlin Defense in College Bribery Scandal Revealed as Second Former Coach Pleads Guilty
Actress Lori Loughlin departs federal court in Boston after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on April 3, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

The way Lori Loughlin and the other parents who did not agree to plead guilty in the college bribery scheme plan to fight the charges was revealed in court on June 4.

Felicity Huffman, the “Desparate Housewives” star, and 12 other parents agreed to plead guilty in the nationwide scandal which, according to authorities, involved parents paying William “Rick” Singer money to either help their children get better SAT scores or help get them into elite colleges, both through nefarious means.

But Loughlin, her husband Mossimo Giannulli, and 18 other parents didn’t take the plea agreement and are instead fighting the charges in court. Most parents face up to 40 years in prison on money laundering and conspiracy charges.

Lawyers for the parents said that a core part of their strategy is alleging the money was intended as charity, not a bribe.

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David Sidoo, of Vancouver, Canada, leaves following his federal court hearing in Boston on Mar. 15, 2019. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via AP)

“If the money went to a school, it’s not a bribe,” Martin Weinberg, who represents Canadian businessman David Sidoo, said during a court hearing on Monday, according to NBC.

Sidoo, authorities said, paid Singer $200,000 for someone else to take his sons’ college entrance exams.

After court, Weinberg added, “Many of the clients would contend that if payments were made to a charity or sports organization, that it is not a bribe.”

Other lawyers present at the status conference agreed.

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Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez arrive at federal court in Boston on April 3, 2019. (Steven Senne/Photo via AP)

“It’s a question of whether Singer told the parents that the money was going to athletic programs rather than the pockets of the coaches. If other parents were told that, then it is part of our argument that the parents did not know that it was a bribe,” Aaron Katz, who represents Elizabeth Henriquez, told NBC.

Katz said that he spoke for “many, if not all the defendants.”

Henriquez and her husband Manuel Henriquez allegedly paid Singer $25,000 in order for one of Singer’s associates to “purport to proctor [their daughter’s] SAT exam and correct her answers.”

Several lawyers said on Monday that most of the defendants who have not agreed to a plea deal, if not all, will go to trial.

Prosecutors hit back at the defense strategy. “It doesn’t matter if the money went to the coach’s program or the coach directly. A bribe is simply a quid pro quo, it doesn’t matter where the money went,” assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told Judge Paige Kelly.

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Former University of Southern California soccer coach Laura Janke departs federal court in Boston on May 14, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

The conference came as a second former coach agreed to plead guilty in the scandal.

Ali Khosroshahin, the head women’s soccer coach at the University of Southern California, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering before June 30, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The agreement made him the 22nd person to plead or agree to plead guilty out of the 50 people who were charged in the scheme.

Singer was one of the first, pleading guilty to racketeering and other charges in March in the same week the indictments were revealed.

Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that Khosroshahin would designate children as clients of a private soccer club controlled by him and Laura Hanke, his former assistant coach, “despite the fact that none of those children played competitive soccer.”

Singer paid $350,000 to the club, authorities said.

The designation helped portray applicants as elite athletes to smooth their entrance into the school.

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