Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, continue to insist they are innocent in the college admissions scandal.
And on Friday a new filing from the couple’s lawyers says they can prove it – but prosecutors needs to cough up the evidence.
Loughlin and Giannulli are among 36 parents accused of paying into a vast criminal network led by Rick 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 couple is accused of paying $500,000 to a nonprofit led by Singer and a University of Southern California athletics official to get their daughters tagged as crew recruits to get them into USC. Neither daughter played crew.
But in court documents filed Friday in Boston and obtained by USA TODAY, Loughlin and Giannulli’s lawyers insist any payments given to Singer were legitimate donations.
The filing also alleges prosecutors have withheld exculpatory evidence, due last May, “that helps show that (the couple) believed all of the payments they made would go to USC itself – for legitimate, university-approved purposes – or to other legitimate charitable causes.”
The filing alleges prosecutors had previously failed to disclose that “Singer stated that Giannulli and Loughlin thought their payment of $50,000 went directly to USC’s program.”
Such evidence would “directly undermine” prosecutors’ theories that the couple knew their payments would be used to bribe a rogue USC official, the filing states.
Meanwhile, the filing continues, prosecutors “launched a months-long campaign to pressure (Loughlin and Giannulli) into pleading guilty” and continued to apply pressure by bringing new charges against them.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors asked that Loughlin and Giannulli be among the first group of parents to be tried in the college admissions scandal in October.
Loughlin and Giannulli are among 15 parents still fighting charges in the blockbuster “Varsity Blues” admissions scandal. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton has made clear he wants to divide the parents into smaller groups rather than have them tried all at once.
The couple is 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. They’ve pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Contributing: Joey Garrison