Topline: Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Massimo Giannulli, said Wednesday that new evidence from alleged college admissions scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer exonerates them of bribery charges, one day after an heiress to the Hot Pockets fortune was sentenced to five months in prison for her role in the scandal.
- The couple’s attorneys accused the federal government in a court filing of withholding notes from Singer’s iPhone that were found during the case’s discovery process, according to CNN.
- In the notes, Singer describes a conversation with FBI agents: “Loud and abrasive call with agents,” he wrote, adding, “They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where there [sic] money was going.”
- The couple’s attorneys claim in the filing that Singer’s notes prove that they believed their $500,000 payment to the University of Southern California was a legitimate donation and not a bribe.
- Loughlin and Giannulli’s court filing came about 24 hours before their trial date was supposed to be set in a Thursday status conference.
- Their attorneys argue that the trial date should be postponed in light of Singer’s released notes, which ABC News reported were originally set aside due to attorney-client privilege, before being approved for release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
- Prosecutors believe the new evidence won’t help Loughlin and Giannulli because Singer’s notes are his interpretation of his conversation with the FBI, ABC News reported, citing an unnamed source.
Crucial quote: “This afternoon, less than 24 hours before the status conference at which the Court intended to set trial dates in this matter, the Government for the very first time produced in discovery… information that is not only exculpatory, but exonerating for the Defendants the Government has charged with bribery,” wrote Sean M. Berkowitz, the couple’s attorney.
Key background: Prosecutors charged 53 people in March 2019 for participating in a wide-ranging scheme to get students into elite colleges using various forms of cheating and bribery. Loughlin and Giuannulli are accused of paying Singer $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, although neither daughter played that sport. Singer pled guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. Singer also cooperated with investigators and wore a wire. As a result, scores wealthy parents, coaches and others have been sentenced in the scandal so far, with prison time ranging from a few days to several months. Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison, while former PIMCO CEO Douglas Hodge has gotten the harshest sentence with nine months.