Federal prosecutors in the sprawling college admissions case have denied actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, a fair trial by refusing to produce evidence, their lawyers asserted in a Friday court filing.
Both Loughlin, who is best known for her role as Aunt Becky on “Full House,” and Giannulli have been indicted on fraud, money laundering, and bribery charges in connection with the cheating scandal. Authorities have alleged they paid bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as fake crew recruits.
But Friday, their attorneys argued in a motion to compel evidence that the couple believed that all of their payments would go to USC itself “for legitimate, university-approved purposes -- or to other legitimate charitable causes.”
Giannulli and Loughlin’s attorneys said that prosecutors appear to be concealing evidence that would help prove that assertion.
“The Government’s failure to disclose this information is unacceptable, and this Court should put a stop to it,” they said.
The attorneys also charged that Boston-based prosecutors have repeatedly refused to produce evidence in its possession, including information about USC’s knowledge of the alleged unlawful conduct. They want all of the information the prosecution has that relates to the school’s knowledge of the scheme, as well as reports from interviews with the scheme’s mastermind and the “underlying interview notes,” according to Friday’s motion.
“Requiring these broad disclosures is essential to preserving the integrity of the trial and ensuring that Giannulli and Loughlin have a fair opportunity to prove their innocence,” the filing read.
Some other parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, have taken plea deals in the case, but Loughlin and Giannulli have chosen to fight the charges, and Friday’s filing gave insight into the couple’s defense. The couple’s attorneys said it matters what the defendants in the case knew about where their donations would go.
For at least two of the charges the couple face, prosecutors must prove that the defendants knew their payments to the university’s athletics department and Singer’s firm would actually be used to bribe a USC official, according to the filing.
The government, according to the filing, must prove also that Giannulli and Loughlin intended to defraud USC.
The filing also mentioned consultant William “Rick” Singer, the admitted mastermind of the college admissions scheme, with defense attorneys arguing that what USC knew about Singer’s operation is “highly relevant.”
“[A]ny statements made by Singer as to precisely what he told his clients about how their funds would be used are critically important,” read the filing.
Prosecutors have alleged that Loughlin, Giannulli, and dozens of other wealth parents cut large checks to Singer to have their children falsely designated as athletic recruits at fancy schools, or to pad their children’s SAT and ACT scores.
But Loughlin and Giannulli attorneys contend that the allegation that they paid money to USC or Singer’s firm “to advance their children’s prospects of admission is not itself proof of bribery.”