The prosecution in the Lori Loughlin case on Wednesday denied defense claims that the FBI had entrapped her and other unwitting parents into participating in the college admissions bribery scheme.
Last month, attorneys representing Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, argued that the case should be thrown out due to government misconduct. They cited the notes of William “Rick” Singer, the college admissions consultant at the heart of the case, arguing that the notes showed that agents had browbeat him into implicating his clients in criminal behavior.
The attorneys also charged that the prosecution had withheld the notes for nearly nine months, well past a court-imposed discovery deadline. In its filing on Wednesday, the prosecution conceded that the notes should have been turned over earlier, but denied acting in bad faith.
“In a sprawling, fast-moving prosecution, the failure to produce the notes earlier was simply a mistake,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven E. Frank. “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 defense has argued that Loughlin and Giannulli believed they were making a legitimate charitable contribution when they paid some $500,000 to have their two daughters admitted to USC. They also contend that Singer’s notes show that once he had agreed to secretly record his clients for the government, the agents pressured him not to talk about the payments as a donation.
“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. “Essentially they are asking me to bend the truth.”
But in the filing on Wednesday, the prosecution argued that when Singer wrote those words, he had still not fully accepted responsibility for his crimes. The prosecutors also argued that it did not really matter whether Singer and his clients referred to the payments as “donations” or not, because the balance of the evidence shows they knew they were engaged in a corrupt scheme to admit their children under false pretenses.
“Just because neither Singer nor the defendants actually used the word ‘bribe’ to describe the purported donations doesn’t mean that they were legitimate,” Frank wrote. “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.”
According to the prosecution, Giannulli and Loughlin knew their children were being admitted as crew recruits, even though they did not row crew, and took steps to help perpetuate the fraud.
The couple are scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 5.