Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, might have caught a big break in their college admissions bribery case. The two were first implicated when the scandal broke last year, alongside Felicity Huffman, and have been accused of bribing the University of Southern California with $500,000 to secure their daughters’ admission. (They pleaded not guilty.) But the couple’s defense claims that notes from the scam’s mastermind proves they believed the money they’d handed over was a legitimate donation.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Loughlin’s defense team said in a legal filing that the prosecution had provided notes from college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty last March to orchestrating the scheme.
“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 says, per People.
The filing also quotes Singer writing, “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.”
Loughlin and Giannulli’s attorney writes in the filing, “This belated discovery ... 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 new information, he added, was not only “exculpatory, but exonerating for the defendants the government has charged with bribery.”
Loughlin and Giannulli’s defense asked for the setting of their trial date to be postponed—which they say is “the only fair way to protect the defendants’ rights.” As People notes, the couple’s attorney first asked the prosecution to release this evidence in December, and claimed in a filing in January that the prosecution had been holding that evidence since last May.
On Thursday, however, a federal judge in Boston ruled to set Loughlin and Giannulli’s trial date for October 5, Deadline reports. Jury selection will begin in late September, and if found guilty the couple could face a maximum of 50 years in prison, along with millions in fines.
This post has been updated to include the news of Loughlin’s trial date and potential penalties.