LOS ANGELES, CA — As a trial date nears for Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli in the college admissions scandal, the famous couple’s legal team contends a bombshell discovery proves their innocence. According to their attorneys, prosecutors waited until recently to disclose a handwritten note from their star witnesses that shows parents thought they were making a donation rather than a bribe.
The celebrity couple is accused of paying $500,000 as part of a scheme with Newport Beach businessman William “Rick” Singer and a USC athletics official to get their two daughters into the university as members of the crew team, even though they did not participate in crew. As part of the scheme, the parents sent Singer photos of their daughters on a rowing machine, according to the criminal complaint.
In a legal filing seeking to postpone the trial, attorney Sean Berkowtiz wrote, “This belated discovery is devastating to the government’s case and demonstrates that the government has been improperly withholding core exculpatory information, employing a ‘win at all costs’ effort rather than following their obligation to do justice,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The exculpatory evidence is open to interpretation.
In the course of discovery, prosecutors recently shared with defense attorneys a handwritten note by Singer, the mastermind behind the college admissions cheating scheme turned star witness. Singer, ran a for-profit college counseling business called The Edge College Career Network, also known as the Key, and pleaded guilty to a slew of charges after working with investigators to secretly recorded parents allegedly participating in the scheme.
“They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where there 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 filing.
According to the couple’s attorneys, the note proves they thought the money was a legitimate donation.
Loughlin and her husband are expected to stand trial in Boston on Oct. 5 on federal charges related to the college admissions scandal, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
The “Full House” actress and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of conspiring to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of USC to allow their daughters‘ admission.
The couple will stand trial in Boston federal court alongside six other parents charged in the case: Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane and Todd Blake, John Wilson, Dr. Homa Zadeh — a USC professor of dentistry — and Robert Zangrillo. Jury selection will start Sept. 28. Seven other parents will go to trial Jan. 11, federal prosecutors said.
Dozens of parents and college athletic coaches were implicated in the 52-defendant scandal. Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman was released Oct. 25 from a low-security federal prison camp in Northern California 11 days into a 14-day sentence handed down last September for paying to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers on a college-entrance exam.
Huffman, 57, was also ordered to spend a year on supervised release, pay a $30,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service. The “Desperate Housewives” actress was the first parent to be sentenced in connection with the wide-ranging college-admissions cheating scandal, a probe dubbed “Varsity Blues.”
City News Service and Patch Staffer contributed to this report.