A judge refused Friday to dismiss charges against actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and other prominent parents accused of cheating the college admissions process who argue they were entrapped by federal authorities.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton rejected the defense's bid to toss the indictment over allegations of misconduct by FBI agents in the case that has rocked the world of higher education. The judge also denied their attempt to block prosecutors from presenting certain secretly recorded phone calls at trial.
“The Court is satisfied that government’s counsel has not lied to or attempted to mislead the Court or fabricated evidence,” Gorton wrote in his ruling.
A lawyer for the couple declined to comment on Friday.
Loughlin and Giannulli are scheduled to go on trial in October on charges that they paid $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower. They denied paying bribes and said they believed their payments were legitimate donations.
They were among 50 people charged last year in the case dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” Authorities said wealthy parents paid huge sums to secure students' admission at elite schools as fake athletic recruits or have someone cheat on their entrance exams.
The judge’s decision came after he ordered prosecutors to explain iPhone notes written by the admitted mastermind of the admissions cheating scheme — Rick Singer — when he was secretly working with the government in October 2018.
In his notes, Singer wrote that investigators told him to lie to get parents to make incriminating statements over recorded phone calls. The agents instructed him to say he told the parents the payments were bribes, instead of donations, according to the notes made public in legal filings.