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Lori Loughlin, other parents withholding information in college admissions scandal, feds say

Joey Garrison USA TODAY Published 1:35 PM EST Jan 14, 2020 BOSTON — Federal prosecutors say parents still fighting charges in the nation’s college admissions scandal, including actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli, have not not turned over any discovery evidence despite requests from the government.  The claim, outlined in a joint interim report filed last week,…


Joey Garrison


USA TODAY

Published 1:35 PM EST Jan 14, 2020

BOSTON — Federal prosecutors say parents still fighting charges in the nation’s college admissions scandal, including actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli, have not not turned over any discovery evidence despite requests from the government. 

The claim, outlined in a joint interim report filed last week, comes ahead of a status conference hearing Friday in Boston federal court. 

It’s part of a larger battle over discovery. Defense attorneys for Loughlin and other parents last month accused prosecutors of refusing to share reports of FBI interviews with the mastermind of the nationwide admissions scheme, Rick Singer. The two sides have asked for a hearing in February to take up the issue. 

More: Lori Loughlin’s attorneys argue feds are concealing evidence in college admissions scandal

Before trial, the competing parties are obligated to share information, documents and other key evidence through a process known as discovery. 

But prosecutors say with the exception of two defendants, William McGlashan and Robert Zangrillo, parents have not turned over any discovery. The government turned over its first batch of 3 million pages of evidence — emails, phone logs, bank records and other documents — to defense attorneys in April and May. 

“The Defendants believe that it is premature to do so at this time,” the new court filing reads. “The Government disagrees with the Defendants’ assertion that it is ‘premature’ to provide their own discovery.”

It continues: “The Defendants have now had approximately eight months to review the Government’s discovery, confer with their clients, and strategize regarding potential defenses. It is not premature to provide discovery, which they can later supplement, to the Government as required by the rules.”

More: College admissions scandal: Fight for FBI notes a new battlefront for accused parents

Prosecutors argue that, under federal court rules, the defense had 28 days to produce discovery following their clients’ arraignments. But defense attorneys have taken the position that, because the government hasn’t fulfilled its discovery obligations, they “cannot reasonably be expected to identify documents subject to reciprocal discovery.”

William Trach, an attorney for Loughlin and Giannulli, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

In a motion filed last month, the celebrity couple’s legal team asked a judge to intervene to force prosecutors to turn over “all information” concerning Singer’s representations to his clients regarding payments to the University of Southern California as well as information about “USC’s knowledge of Singer’s operation.”

More: Lori Loughlin’s husband emailed accountant, ‘I had to work the system,’ new indictment alleges

In particular, they singled out FBI reports, known as “302 reports,” that detail statements and interview notes taken during the college admissions investigation.

Loughlin and Giannulli are among 36 parents accused of paying into a vast criminal network led by Singer, a college admissions consultant from California, who took payments in exchange for either tagging their children as fake athletic recruits to get them admitted into elite colleges or fixing their college entrance exam scores. Singer pleaded guilty and and is cooperating with authorities. 

The celebrity couple pleaded not guilty to federal charges for paying $500,000 to a nonprofit led by Singer and a USC athletics official to get their daughters tagged as crew recruits to slip them into the University of Southern California. They’re preparing for trial late this year. A date is not set.

The couple’s attorneys have argued the FBI reports would prove their main defense argument — that they understood their payments to be “legitimate donations” to USC itself, not bribes to USC officials. 

Loughlin and Giannulli are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, honest services fraud, money laundering and federal programs bribery, which was tacked on in October to parents who declined plea deals offered by prosecutors.

Fifty-three people, including the 36 parents as well as college coaches, have been charged in the college admissions case. Thirty have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty later while the remaining 23 prepare for trial.

Thirteen parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, have been sentenced for their crimes. Only one parent avoided prison. Huffman served 11 days of a two-week prison sentence in October after she completed her time early.

More: Felicity Huffman completes prison sentence, released early

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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