Lawyers for actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, argue that new evidence proves the couple did not knowingly bribe their daughters into admission to the University of Southern California.
According to a report by CBS News, prosecutors recently provided the defense with new information, including notes written by Rick Singer — the admitted mastermind of the college admissions scandal — in which he alleges that the FBI told him to lie by saying that he made known to parents involved in the scheme that their payments were bribes, and not "legitimate donations," as Loughlin has maintained.
"They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where their money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment," Singer reportedly wrote in the filing.
Defense attorneys argue that the notes written by Singer about his discussions with the FBI supports the couple's claim that they were not under the impression that their payments were bribes.
"This belated discovery ... is devastating to the government's case and demonstrates that the government has been improperly withholding core exculpatory information, employing a 'win at all costs' effort rather than following their obligation to do justice," wrote defense attorney Sean Berkowtiz.
What's the background?
The "Full House" actress and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to ensure their daughters were accepted into USC as crew recruits despite neither of them having any experience as rowers.
They were charged last March as part of the largest college admissions cheating scandal ever prosecuted in the U.S.
Loughlin has maintained her and her husband's innocence, arguing that they did not knowingly pay off the university in turn for their daughters' admission. Last April, a source close to Loughlin claimed that the actress "felt that she hadn't done anything that any mom wouldn't have done, if they had the means to do so."
The couple had also reportedly accused the prosecution of "concealing" key evidence in the trial that would prove their innocence. In a court motion filed in December, the couple's lawyers asked a judge to turn over FBI records needed to mount a proper defense.
"This court's intervention is urgently needed," defense lawyers wrote in the filing. "The government is applying a flawed disclosure standard that systematically deprives Giannulli and Loughlin of information necessary to prepare their case and ensure a fair trial."
While the new evidence at least appears to put the prosecution on the defensive, it is unclear whether it will effectively exonerate Loughlin and Giannulli.
In its coverage of the news, Hot Air asks whether Singer's word is reliable, anyways: "If Singer's word can't be trusted in his own notes to himself, why should a jury believe Singer when he testifies that Loughlin and Giannulli knew that the money was a bribe and not a donation?"
Then there is the accusation that, in addition to paying half a million dollars to Singer, the couple also created a fake resume for one of their daughters.
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