Judge refuses to throw out charges against Lori Loughlin in college admissions scandal, setting up trial showdown

Taryn Ryder
A judge denied Lori Loughlin's request to get charges dropped in college admissions scandal case.
A judge denied Lori Loughlin's request to get charges dropped in college admissions scandal case. (Photo: Reuters)

Lori Loughlin will still go to trial in October for her supposed role in the college admissions scandal. On Friday, a federal judge denied the defense's motion to dismiss charges against the Full House star, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and other parents. The defense was looking to get the case thrown out due to alleged investigatory misconduct.

The judge's ruling comes after he ordered the government to respond to “serious and disturbing” claims of misconduct. The defense argued the government withheld evidence and failed to turn over notes taken by William "Rick" Singer in a timely fashion that they said proved misconduct.

"After consideration of the extensive briefing, affidavits and other information provided by the government and defendants, the court is satisfied that the government has not lied to or misled the court," U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton wrote in Friday's order, which was obtained by Yahoo Entertainment.

A note Singer wrote on is iPhone on Oct. 2, 2018 said government agents "continue to ask me to tell a fib" as he got parents to make incriminating statements during recorded phone calls.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and Giannulli paid $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits. The couple claims they thought they were making a legitimate donation.

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"The government asserts that in the calls which precipitated the October 2nd notes, they did not instruct Singer to fib or lie but rather sought to have him describe explicitly the alleged scheme in order to make it crystal clear to any parents not already committed to Singer’s 'program' that their payments were bribes not just donations," Judge Gorton wrote.

While the judge noted government agents are "most definitely not" permitted "to suborn the commission of a crime," he said agents can "coach cooperating witnesses and create ruses designed to elicit incriminating information from willing participants during the course of an investigation."

Singer is a key witness for the prosecution as he agreed to cooperate over a year ago.

"To the extent the defendants are dissatisfied with Singer’s purported denials of any wrongdoing in connection with his rehearsed telephone calls, they will have ample opportunity to cross examine him if and when he testifies at trial," the judge continued. "Whether Singer’s calls in October, 2018, were consistent with his prior representations of his 'program' and whether they demonstrate that defendants believed their payments to be legitimate donations rather than bribes is an issue squarely for the jury after a trial on the merits."

As for the defense’s claim the government failed to turn over Singer's notes in a timely fashion, the judge agreed the prosecution should have produced them "much sooner than it did."

"The government’s failure to do so was irresponsible and misguided. It was not, however, willful and is partly explained (but not excused) by the AUSAs’ imprudent underestimation of the context, relevance and potential exculpatory nature of the notes," Judge Gorton stated. He added the notes were still disclosed more than eight months before they are set to go to trial and "defendants have ample time to prepare."

Yahoo Entertainment reached out to Loughlin's attorney, but did not immediately receive a response.

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