Lori Loughlin’s husband was told to keep USC athletic director ‘out of’ scheme, emails show
BOSTON — In the fall of 2016, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli let Rick Singer, the mastermind of a nationwide college admissions scheme, know that he would be traveling to play golf in two weeks with then-University of Southern California Athletics Director Pat Haden.
Giannulli, husband of actress Lori Loughlin, asked Singer in an email whether he should “mention anything” to Haden. The couple’s oldest daughter, Isabella Rose, had recently been admitted into USC as a fake crew recruit despite not playing the sport.
“BTW headed to Augusta in two weeks with Pat,” Giannulli wrote in a November 2016 email to Singer, a reference to Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, where they were members. “I was planning on saying nothing? Agree or OK to mention anything?”
Singer responded: “Best to keep Pat out of it. When I met him a year ago about (your daughter), he felt you were good for a million plus.”
“Hah!!” Giannulli wrote back.
Previously undisclosed emails from the couple, including this exchange, and call logs are included as exhibits in a new motion filed Tuesday by prosecutors. It was filed in opposition to a request from the couple’s defense attorneys last month for a judge to force the Justice Department to turn over material they claim is exculpatory evidence.
Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli exit the Boston Federal Court house after a pre-trial hearing with Magistrate Judge Kelley at the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse in Boston on August 27, 2019. Loughlin and Giannulli are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the college admissions scandal. (Photo: Joseph Prezioso, AFP/Getty Images)
Specifically, they want Federal Bureau of Investigation reports, known as “302 reports,” that detail statements and interview notes taken during the college admissions investigation.
Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty to multiple federal charges for paying $500,000 to Singer and a USC athletic department official to get their two daughters, Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade, tagged as crew recruits to slip them into USC. They are two of 36 parents charged in the sprawling nationwide scheme.
‘The nicest I’ve been at blowing somebody off,’ Mossimo Giannulli told Lori Loughlin
The couple’s attorneys have argued the FBI reports would prove their main defense argument — that they understood their payments to be “legitimate donations” to USC itself through a non-profit operated by Singer, not bribes to USC officials. They are seeking “any statements by Singer as to what he precisely told his clients” about the use of their funds. They also say they need statements detailing what USC knew of Singer’s operation.
But prosecutors, in the government’s new court filing, argue Loughlin and Giannulli, despite their position, rejected a “‘legitimate’ approach” to admissions into USC.
Prosecutors pointed to a September 2016 email in which Giannulli appeared to rebuff a USC development official’s offer to “flag” his daughter’s application and later joked about it to Loughlin. The USC official also offered a chance for one-on-one interviews, classroom visits and a “customized tour of the campus for the family.”
“I think we are squared away,” Giannulli wrote back to the USC administrator.
He forwarded the exchange to Loughlin, telling his wife, “The nicest I’ve been at blowing somebody off.”
William Trach, the couple’s attorney, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Attorneys for other parents who have maintained their innocence in the sweeping “Varsity Blues” admissions have made motions for the same FBI “302 reports,” which the government has said is not exculpatory evidence.
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Haden, a former star USC quarterback, who resigned as athletics director in 2016 after taking the helm in 2010, is not among the defendants charged in the college admissions scandal. Three former USC coaches, as well as senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, were charged with felonies.
In the motion, prosecutors said they’ve “scrupulously adhered to its discovery obligations,” producing 1.5 million pages of emails, nearly 500,000 other documents, more than 2,000 pages of legal process and some 4,000 phone calls and texts.
As for the FBI reports, prosecutors said they’ve disclosed information from the reports, referring to summaries of the FBI interviews submitted to defense attorneys. Loughlin and Giannulli’s attorneys are seeking the full first-hand interview notes, not summaries, however. But prosecutors said this involves “materials to which the defendants are simply not entitled at this stage of the proceedings.
“In short, notwithstanding the defendants’ hyperbolic and unsupported claims, the
government is not withholding any exculpatory evidence,” the government’s motion reads.
“While the government has already produced voluminous information on both of these topics,” it goes on to say, “the Giannullis are not now entitled to inculpatory witness statements or statements concerning Singer’s statements to third parties, which are neither favorable to them nor material to their guilt. Accordingly, the Giannullis’ motion should be denied.”
In a separate filing last week, prosecutors said Giannulli, Loughlin and other parents have not turned over any discovery evidence despite requests from the government. Defense attorneys have taken the position position that, because the government hasn’t fulfilled its discovery obligations, they “cannot reasonably be expected to identify documents subject to reciprocal discovery.”
A judge is expected to take up the fight over discovery next month.
Attorneys for Robert Zangrillo, another parent accused of making bribes to USC, in September released emails from USC that showed the university maintained a spreadsheet that classified some applicants as “VIP” because their families made major donations to the school, were friends or had other connections.
Fifty-three people, including the 36 parents as well as college coaches, have been charged in the college admissions case. Thirty have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty later while the remaining 23 prepare for trial.
Thirteen parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, have been sentenced for their crimes. Only one parent avoided prison. Huffman served 11 days of a two-week prison sentence in October after she completed her time early.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
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