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Lori Loughlin claims FBI tried to force college scam mastermind to lie

Nancy Dillon
Associated Press

Lori Loughlin claims the FBI attempted “to bully” convicted college scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer into lying, and she wants a judge to postpone setting her trial date in the case.

In a new motion filed by the “Full House” star’s lawyers, Loughlin claims prosecutors provided new evidence Wednesday that she believes “is not only exculpatory, but exonerating.”

She and husband Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California with fake credentials claiming the girls were elite crew team recruits.

In this April 3, 2019, file photo, actress Lori Loughlin, front, and her husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli depart federal court in Boston. Lawyers for Loughlin and Giannulli said Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 that new evidence shows the couple is innocent of charges that they bribed their daughters' way into the University of Southern California.

They have pleaded not guilty and claim Singer tricked them into thinking their payments were legitimate donations.

Lawyers for the couple blasted the government for allegedly waiting until “24 hours before” Thursday’s trial-setting hearing to hand over notes Singer allegedly wrote in 2018 to memorialize his discussions with the FBI about his recorded calls with clients.

“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,” Singer wrote in the notes.

“I asked for a script if they want me to ask questions and retrieve responses that are not accurate to the way I should be asking the questions. Essentially they are asking me to bend the truth which is what they asked me not to do when working with the agents,” he wrote.

Singer claimed one investigator “raised her voice to me like she did in the hotel room about agreeing with her that everyone bribed the schools. This time about asking each person to agree to a lie I was telling them.”

Loughlin and Giannulli claim the FBI learned back in October 2018 that Singer took the notes on his iPhone. They say the feds should have turned over anything exculpatory in those notes long before this week.

They called it “outrageous” that investigators claim the notes appeared to be “privileged,” so they didn’t review them further at the time.

Lawyers for the celebrity couple filed more paperwork Thursday morning ahead of the planned trial-setting conference asking for permission to brief the court further.

Federal prosecutors in Boston previously pushed back against claims by Loughlin and Giannulli that they believed they were following a “legitimate” admissions process.

In a January filing, prosecutors said the couple “specifically rejected” a chance to pursue USC’s “legitimate” pay-to-play admissions approach when they “rebuffed” a development official who offered to help their oldest daughter, Isabella.

Just days after Singer told the couple he was fabricating credentials so Isabella could gain admission as a recruited coxswain, Giannulli snubbed the official, prosecutors said.

“I think we are squared away,” Giannulli wrote to the official, according to a Sept. 27, 2016, email chain included as an exhibit.

Giannulli then forwarded the email to Loughlin, saying it was “the nicest I’ve been at blowing off somebody,” prosecutors said.

When Giannulli subsequently told Singer he was planning to play golf with Pat Haden, USC’s former director of athletics, the men agreed Giannulli should steer clear of mentioning the money he was paying Donna Heinel, the USC official later fired and charged over her role in the scandal.