The tough U.S. District judge presiding over the cases of Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli, and other parents charged in the college admissions scandal has ordered the government to explain itself.
Judge Nathaniel Gorton said Friday in a brief memorandum and order that the allegations that the FBI coerced admitted college scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer to lie was “serious and disturbing” and warranted further explanation.
Gorton didn’t take at face value prosecutors’ claims that there was nothing to see here.
“In those notes Singer describes a troubling conversation. He indicates that an unidentified agent named ‘Liz’ and other unspecified ‘agents’ aggressively pressured him and directly instructed him to lie to elicit incriminating information from potential defendants,” Gorton wrote.
Remember when Singer got on the phone and lied about non-existent IRS audits while government agents recorded defendants saying incriminating things as they got their stories straight? It seems that may be coming back to bite the government.
“The government responds that it was unnecessary to investigate those claims because there was ‘nothing to investigate’ and the agents knew his contentions were untrue. Moreover, his notes were written before Singer had accepted responsibility for obstructing investigation and, in any event, any alleged entrapment is an issue for trial,” Gorton continued, before putting on record his concern. “The Court considers the allegations in Singer’s October notes to be serious and disturbing. While government agents are permitted to coach cooperating witnesses during the course of an investigation, they are not permitted to suborn the commission of a crime.”
Gorton ordered the government to respond to allegations of misconduct on or before May 1.
The defendants have argued that this issue is serious enough that the indictment should be dismissed. In a filing of their own on Friday, they said the worst part was that the government doesn’t seem to understand the problem.
“Perhaps the most troubling part of the Government’s assertion is that it reveals a profound misunderstanding of the seriousness of the alleged misconduct, and of this Court’s role in ensuring any trial is fair,” lawyers for the defendants wrote. “If the contentions in Singer’s notes are true, the Government has engaged in a sustained, orchestrated effort to cheat the justice system and win convictions at all costs—despite the facts. This case should not proceed to trial without a thorough examination of what actually happened. The only way to protect Defendants’ constitutional rights—and ensure that any eventual trial is fair—is to order an evidentiary hearing and let the truth come to light.”
You can read the Gorton order below:
[Image via JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images]
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