LOS ANGELES (AP) – On Friday, a judge refused to drop charges against actress Laurie Laughlin, her husband Mosimo Giannulli, a fashion designer, and other prominent parents accused of cheating in college because they were allegedly framed by the federal government.
Actress Laurie Laughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (back) leave the Federal Court of Justice in Boston after a preliminary hearing with Judge Kelly on the 27th. August 2019 in the American court John Joseph Moakley in Boston. (Getty Images)
The American District Judge Nathaniel Gorton denied the defense’s motion to dismiss allegations of misconduct by FBI agents in a case that shocked the world of higher education. The judge also denied their attempt to prevent prosecutors from making certain secret telephone calls during the trial.
The court is satisfied that the plaintiff did not lie or attempt to mislead the court or produce evidence, Gorton wrote in his judgment.
The couple’s lawyer refused to comment on Friday.
Laughlin and Giannulli will be sued in October for paying $500,000 to have their daughters accepted as crew members of the University of Southern California when none of the girls were rowing. They refused to pay bribes and stated that they considered their payments to be legal donations.
POWERFUL: Prosecutor’s releasing photos of Laurie Laughlin’s daughters on rowing carts.
They were among the 50 people charged last year in a case called Operation Varsity Blues. Authorities say wealthy parents paid huge sums of money to be accepted as fake athletes at elite schools or to have someone cheat on them at their entrance exams.
The judge’s decision came after he ordered the prosecutors to explain the iPhone recordings that Rick Singer, a recognized master of deception, had written at the reception when he was secretly working with the government in October 2018.
In her notes, Singer wrote that investigators told her to lie in order to get her parents to make incriminating statements about recorded telephone conversations. The officers asked him to say that he had told his parents that the payments were bribes, not gifts, according to publicly available legal documents.
They keep asking me to say one word and not to rephrase what I told my clients, what is where the money went – to the program, not to the coach, and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment, Singer wrote based on the court reports.
POWERFUL: The federal government has published a false summary of Olivia Jade Tuting’s rowing explosions.
Gorton described Singer’s claims in his notes as serious and disturbing.
The defense argued that the records showed that agents used Singer to falsify evidence and deceived her parents into believing that the payments were bribes.
The agents in this case denied pressuring Singer to lie and said they had asked him to be more open to new customers who had not yet been subject to a bribery system. Prosecutors said Singer took notes when he was not fully aware of the responsibility for his crimes. In addition, the plaintiffs stated that it did not matter whether Singer demanded bribes or gifts, because it was always an illegal quid pro quo.
Gorton wrote Friday that the prosecutor’s failure to disclose Singer’s earlier notes to the defense was irresponsible and wrong, but not intentional. Gorton said the cops were trying to get Singer to confirm, not tamper with the evidence. And if the defense attorneys disagree, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to see Ms. to question Singer in court, the judge said.
He wrote that it is up to the jury to decide on the merits after the trial whether Singer’s appeal in October 2018 was in line with his earlier views on the program and whether they showed that the defendants considered their payments to be legal donations rather than bribes.
Singer has pleaded guilty and is expected to be the main witness in court. He began working with investigators in September 2018 and secretly recorded his phone conversations with his parents to build a case against them.
Almost two dozen parents have already pleaded guilty in this case, including actress Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives. She spent nearly two weeks in prison after confessing to paying $15,000 for someone to correct her daughter’s answers to her entrance exams.
(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. These documents may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed).