US

Lori Loughlin, Other Parents Lose Bid to Dismiss US College Scam Charges

By Reuters

BOSTON—A federal judge on Friday declined to dismiss the charges against “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and other wealthy parents awaiting trial in the U.S. college admissions scandal after they accused investigators of fabricating evidence.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston accepted the explanations prosecutors provided to counter allegations by defense lawyers that investigators pushed a cooperating witness to lie and trick parents into making incriminating statements.

That witness was William “Rick” Singer, a college admissions consultant who has admitted to orchestrating a vast scheme to use bribery and other forms of fraud to help wealthy parents get their children in to top schools.

loughlin and giannulli
Actress Lori Loughlin, right, and husband Mossimo Giannulli depart federal court in Boston after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal on April 3, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

“The court is satisfied that government’s counsel has not lied to or attempted to mislead the court or fabricated evidence,” Gorton wrote.

Gorton said he also would not bar prosecutors from introducing at trial secretly recorded calls Singer placed to the parents.

Defense lawyers did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are set to face trial in October with six other parents.

Since March 2019, 53 people have been charged over a scheme prosecutors say Singer ran to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams and use bribery to secure the admission of various parents’ children to schools as fake athletic recruits.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and Giannulli agreed with Singer to pay $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters named as fake recruits to the University of Southern California crew team.

They and 12 other parents in March moved to dismiss the case, saying prosecutors until recently withheld personal notes by Singer regarding recorded telephone calls he made to them at the government’s direction.

In notes written in October 2018, Singer said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents told him to “tell a fib” on the calls to get the parents to make incriminating statements by telling them their payments were for bribes, not university donations.

The parents’ lawyers maintain they believed their payments were legitimate donations. They said the notes showed investigators coerced Singer into lying to fabricate evidence supporting their criminal intent.

Gorton previously called those claims “disturbing.”

But on Friday, he said he was satisfied with the prosecution’s explanation for the notes, though they should have been provided to defense lawyers sooner.

He said Singer was not being fully cooperative when he wrote the notes and that agents were trying to get him to “corroborate, not fabricate, evidence.”

By Nate Raymond