Full House star Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli have accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of bullying the most important Operation Varsity Blues witness into lying.
In a Wednesday court filing, the beleaguered power couple’s attorney Sean M. Berkowitz accuses the FBI of “bullying” Varsity Blues mastermind William “Rick” Singer into lying in order to firm up a spate of charges against the wealthy parents of children whose admission to several elite universities was allegedly purchased in an unlawful fashion.
Wealthy parents often buy their kids’ way into school, but the government essentially alleges the college admissions scandal is different due to the use of Singer as a third-party broker.
In the filing for a trial date postponement, Berkowitz argues on behalf of his clients that the government unlawfully hid potentially exculpatory evidence from the defense. That information—culled from Singer’s iPhone Notes app—was long-requested by the defense and only finally released on the eve of when the court was scheduled to set a trial date.
Loughlin and Giannulli point to the following passage from Singer’s cellphone notes:
Loud and abrasive call with agents. 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.
Berkowitz easily made hay out of the recently-released Singer notes—and out of the fact that the government waited to produce the material until the eleventh hour.
“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,” the filing notes. “They further note the Government’s desire to ‘nail’ one of the defendants ‘at all costs.’”
Loughlin and Giannulli previously accused the government of withholding potentially exculpatory evidence in December last year—a common, though expressly illegal, tactic used by law enforcement and prosecutors across the country. Turns out, the couple appears to have been correct in their assessment.
“The government is trying to benefit from withholding information in violation of its obligations and the defendants constitutional rights, but then force trial as quickly as it can,” the Wednesday filing reads. “The government should not be rewarded, nor the defendants punished, for this kind of egregious lack of candor and violation of its obligations.”
“The supplemental discovery produced today demonstrates that the Government was simply not being truthful with Defendants or the Court in the above filings, given that as early as October 2, 2018, Singer told agents working on the case the exact information we have been seeking in discovery, and those agents attempted to bully him into lying and saying something different,” the filing continues. “This belated discovery, which should have been produced no later than 30 days after indictment, 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.”
The Wednesday motion to postpone ends with a strong argument highlighting the prosecution’s decided lack of transparency:
The Government is trying to benefit from withholding information in violation of its obligations and the Defendants’ constitutional rights, but then force trial as quickly as it can. The Government should not be rewarded, nor the Defendants punished, for this kind of egregious lack of candor and violation of its obligations.
Read the full filing below:
[image via Paul Marotta/Getty Images]