Lori Loughlin's attorney says new evidence exonerates her in college admissions case

An attorney for Loughlin and her fashion designer husband says that notes from the alleged mastermind of the scheme can help clear the couple.

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By Phil Helsel and Associated Press

Evidence produced by prosecutors in the college admissions cheating scheme exonerates "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, the couple's attorneys said.

Notes from the alleged mastermind of the massive scheme, William "Rick" Singer, show that investigators sought to pressure him to lie, an attorney for the couple said in a court filing Wednesday.

Singer has pleaded guilty in the scheme, which prosecutors say involved wealthy parents paying to have their children's college entrance exams boosted or have the children falsely recruited to universities as student-athletes. He also cooperated with investigators and wore a wire.

Wednesday's motion came a day before Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are scheduled to have a status conference before a judge at which trial dates are to be set.

"Singer's notes indicate that FBI agents yelled at him and instructed him to lie by saying that he told his clients who participated in the alleged 'side door' scheme that their payments were bribes, rather than legitimate donations that went to the schools," attorney Sean M. Berkowitz wrote.

Loughlin, 55, and her husband have pleaded not guilty to charges that include bribery.

They are accused of paying $500,000 to Singer, who allegedly faked athletic credentials for their daughters to help them gain special consideration for admission to the University of Southern California.

Loughlin and Giannulli have contested the allegations, and their attorneys have claimed that prosecutors had refused to turn over exculpatory evidence that appears to show the couple believed their payments to Singer and USC's athletics department would be used for legitimate purposes.

The filing by their attorney Wednesday points to contemporaneous notes it says were made by Singer.

"Loud and abrasive call with agents," Singer wrote, according to the motion. "They continue to ask me to tell a fib and not restate what I told my clients as to where there [sic] money was going — to the program not the coach and that it was a donation and they want it to be a payment."

The filing asks that the court postpone setting any trial dates in the case until issues can be resolved.

"It is the only fair way to protect the Defendants’ rights," Berkowitz wrote.

Dozens of parents were charged in March 2019 in connection with the scheme after an FBI investigation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues."

Among the parents who have pleaded guilty and been sentenced is “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison and served 11.

Federal prosecutors have said that the first trial for the parents should begin in October and that Loughlin and Giannulli should be tried in the first group.

But lawyers for the parents said the substantial amount of evidence, outstanding pretrial motions and "general complexity" of the case made a trial this fall impossible and that there should be no trial before February 2021.

Singer pleaded guilty in March 2019 to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice.