Lori Loughlin's trial date is set in college admissions scandal despite claim of new evidence exonerating her

Suzy ByrneEditor, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo Celebrity

Lori Loughlin will be going to trial sooner than she’d like.

While the Full House actress’s legal team tried to push back her trial date to “no sooner than February 2021” — and continue to try do so — U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said Thursday that it will proceed this fall.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their socialite daughters into the University of Southern California, are scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 5 in Boston federal court. They will be tried among the first group of defendants — including six other parents accused in the widespread scheme — and jury selection would start in late September.

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A second group of defendants, among the 15 in total, were given the scheduled trial date of Jan. 11, 2021.

Gorton told attorneys he was “concerned about pre-trial publicity” in the “high-profile case,” according to Bloomberg News. But, he added, “it is not going to be tried in the newspapers and on the internet.”

Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, seen here in August, are expected to go to trial in October — but their attorneys keep pushing to move back the date. (Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, seen here in August, are expected to go to trial in October — but their attorneys keep pushing to move back the date. (Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Loughlin’s attorney Sean M. Berkowitz of Latham & Watkins requested that the trial date for the actress be next year, due to the prosecutors only recently turning over “over 44,000 pages” of discovery — pertinent documents and other potential evidence — in the case, in January. He said it’s not “feasible” to do it before then due to the “large volume” of discovery as well as “the general complexity of the case.”

The judge also seemingly didn’t adhere to Berkowitz’s request regarding the groupings of the defendants for trial. The attorney had asked for three groups, with Loughlin and Giannulli in a proposed “Group B” with just parents who allegedly paid bribes to get their kids into USC. However, they are in the first group and there are two groups total.

On Wednesday, Loughlin and Giannulli’s legal team claimed in a court filing that among the discovery turned over by prosecutors is evidence that “exonerates” the couple. They pointed to notes written by college admissions scandal mastermind William “Rick” Singer — while cooperating with the FBI in 2018 — that allegedly support the couple’s defense that they thought their donations were legitimate.

The so-called “bombshell” evidence is from notes Singer took while on the phone with investigators, in which he allegedly suggested they were pressuring him to lie and say that parents knew they were paying bribes when he had told them they were making legitimate charitable donations to his shell charity.

Defense attorneys said Singer’s note was “exonerating for the defendants” and “devastating to the government’s case.” They also said it “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.”

In light of that, the defense asked for another delay in setting the trial date today, according to CBS Boston, but the judge set the date anyway. The judge asked for motions related to what Loughlin’s attorney call “prosecutorial misconduct” to be filed for March 13, and there could be a possible hearing in April, if necessary.

Singer pleaded guilty in the case, admitting to taking money from rich clients to fix their children’s test scores or get them into schools via a side door as phony sports recruits. He is awaiting sentencing and continues to work with the government.

The college admissions scandal has captivated America since it was first exposed last March. More than 50 people, including 36 parents, have been charged, with 21 parents — including Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman — admitting to fraud. Huffman, who paid $15,000 to fix her daughter’s SAT scores, already served her jail time — just 11 days — last fall.

Loughlin and Giannulli, who maintain their innocence, face up to 45 years in prison.

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