“Full House” TV star Lori Loughlin and former TPG leader Bill McGlashan said notes by the mastermind of the college admissions scam prove their innocence, as 15 parents were given trial dates in the biggest such racket the U.S. has ever prosecuted.
Lawyers for Loughlin and her husband, the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, and for McGlashan argued in court filings that notes the corrupt admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer took on his phone while cooperating with the government support their claim that they thought their donations were legitimate.
The notes document their claim that investigators pressured Singer to lie during recorded phone conversations with the parents who hired him, according to the defense filings.
“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,” while the U.S. wanted it “to be a payment,” Singer wrote in October 2018, the couple’s lawyers told the court.
The notes are “not only exculpatory, but exonerating for the defendants the government has charged with bribery,” they told U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in their filing.
Because the U.S. “has blatantly shirked its obligation” to voluntarily provide the evidence, McGlashan’s attorneys told the judge in its own filing, their client “requests that the government provide a log of any additional evidence in its possession that it has not yet produced.”
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In a status hearing in Boston on Thursday, Gorton said the 15 parents will go on trial in two groups. The first, to be tried starting Oct. 5, includes Loughlin and Giannulli. The second, beginning Jan. 11, includes McGlashan. Jury selection will start in late September.
“I am concerned about pre-trial publicity. Needless to say, this is a high-profile case,” Gorton told the lawyers gathered for the hearing. “But it is not going to be tried in the newspapers and on the internet.”
The dates for the parents going to trial mark a much-anticipated new chapter in the admissions scandal, in which more than 50 people, including 36 parents, have been charged, 21 of them admitting to fraud. Besides the parents and Singer himself, prosecutors charged employees of Singer, test administrators and college athletic coaches.
The case, announced nearly a year ago after an elaborate FBI sting, has held the nation’s attention, loosing a geyser of tabloid ink and sparking endless office and cocktail conversations about the price of admission to higher education in America. Another question hanging over the scandal has been how the parents fighting the charges would defend themselves.
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Singer admitted taking thousands of dollars from wealthy clients to fix their children’s college entrance exam scores and hundreds of thousands to get college athletic coaches to put the kids’ names on recruiting rosters to lock in a place for them at elite schools across the country. None of the colleges or students were charged.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into theUniversity of Southern California as phony crew stars. Prosecutors say McGlashan paid $50,000 for a confederate of Singer to secretly correct his son’s ACT answers and schemed to pay $250,000 to get his son into USC as a purported football recruit, though he didn’t go through with that part of the alleged plot.
Now the couple say Singer’s notes give the lie to the prosecution.
“I asked for a script if they want me to ask questions and retrieve response that are not accurate to the way I should be asking the questions,” Singer wrote, according to their filing. “Essentially they are asking me to bend the truth.”
Prosecutors said Singer’s notes actually support the government’s case. The parents’ donations via checks written out to USC athletic programs constitute bribes, they contend, and Singer instructed his clients to make those donations.
“Calling something a donation, or making it out to a program, does not make it legitimate,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told the court Thursday.
Thecase is U.S. v. Sidoo, 19-cr-10080, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
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— With assistance by Patricia Hurtado
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