A group of 14 parents embroiled in last year’s college admissions scandal pressed a federal judge last week to dismiss the charges against them. The group, which includes Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, claims the prosecution committed “extraordinary misconduct,” making the case against them invalid.
The group’s attorneys say federal prosecutors bullied the scam’s mastermind, William “Rick” Singer, pressuring him to lie about his conversations with the accused parents. They cite as evidence notes that Singer kept about the interactions, which lawyers only recently introduced in court. In the notes, Singer describes how he felt federal prosecutors coerced him into saying what he thought they wanted him to say.
“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,” Singer wrote, according to the court filing.
Loughlin and Giannulli stand accused of paying $500,000 to obtain admission for their two daughters at the University of Southern California as rowing recruits, even though neither girl rowed in high school. They, along with the group of parents who have pleaded not guilty, argue they made legitimate donations to the universities, not bribes.
The prosecution stated that regardless of whether the parents called the payments donations or bribes, their nature was still an illegal quid pro quo.
Nearly two dozen other parents pleaded guilty in the scandal last year, incurring sentences that included fines, community service, and, in some cases, jail time.
The 14 parents contesting the charges are set to go to trial in two separate groups before U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston in October. —L.E.