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Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Lori Loughlin, other Varsity Blues defendants

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, left the federal courthouse in Boston last year.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, left the federal courthouse in Boston last year.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

In a major legal defeat for actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, a federal judge on Friday refused to dismiss the charges against them and other college entrance scandal defendants, ruling that federal agents and prosecutors made mistakes but did not engage in investigatory misconduct.

“After consideration of the extensive briefing, affidavits and other information provided by the government and defendants, the Court is satisfied that the government has not lied to or misled the Court,” US District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton wrote Friday night. “The defendants’ motion to dismiss the indictment or in the alternative to suppress evidence and order an evidentiary hearing . . . is DENIED.”

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Loughlin and Giannulli filed a dismissal motion in March, alleging that prosecutors had withheld evidence from the scheme’s admitted ringleader, William “Rick” Singer, indicating that Singer told parents their payments were legitimate donations to college athletic programs.

Lawyers for the couple and a dozen other defendants, including Canadian Football League player turned businessman David Sidoo, said notes kept by Singer show that federal agents engineered “a sham . . . in an effort to ‘entrap’ Defendants and ‘nail’ them ‘at all costs,’ ” and that prosecutors hid those notes from defense attorneys, according to court papers.

In his ruling, Gorton wrote that agents for the FBI and IRS have declared in affidavits that they did not instruct Singer to lie and that prosecutors “admitted that this late disclosure was a mistake and that the notes should have been provided much earlier.”

Gorton also refused to block the use of recordings of phone conversations between Singer and other defendants in the case as evidence.

Loughlin and Giannulli are scheduled to go to trial in October alongside other parents on charges that they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits, though neither was a rower.

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Singer has pleaded guilty and is expected to be a crucial witness at trials. He began cooperating with investigators in September 2018 and secretly recorded his phone calls with parents to build the case against them.

Nearly two dozen parents have pleaded guilty in the case, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman. She was sentenced to two weeks in prison for paying $15,000 to have someone cheat on her daughter’s entrance exam and released after 11 days.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.