Friday, February 28, 2020

'Varsity Blues': Notes Raise Questions About Lori Loughlin Bribe’

In October 2018, two weeks after he was arrested by the FBI, William “Rick” Singer pulled out his iPhone and wrote a note in it about a “loud and abrasive call” with his handlers.

“They continue to ask me to tell a fib,” he wrote, “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.”

The L-A Times reports Thursday made for an eventful day in a college admissions scandal that has riveted the nation: A judge set an Oct. 5 start date for a blockbuster trial featuring Lori Loughlin and other parents charged with defrauding USC, and notes emerged showing Singer had written that his FBI handlers wanted him “to bend the truth” and tell his clients that payments they made to his charity were bribes, not donations to university athletic programs.

At the heart of the case is this question: Did Singer’s clients believe their payments were bribes that would induce college coaches and officials to accept their under-qualified children, swindling the schools of their employees’ honest employment? Or did they think the payments were genuine donations, routed through proper channels and no different from the checks deep-pocketed parents often write to universities they hope to see their children attend?

It is a question that probably must be settled at trial, which U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton on Thursday scheduled to begin in October, with Loughlin, her husband, J. Mossimo Giannulli, and others charged with defrauding USC.

In his iPhone notes, which prosecutors disclosed to defense attorneys on Wednesday, Singer wrote that his handlers insisted he “tell a fib and not restate” what he had previously told his clients: that their money was destined for a school’s athletic program, not the coach personally, “and that it was a donation.”

“Essentially,” Singer wrote, “they are asking me to bend the truth which is what they asked me not to do when working with the agents and Eric Rosen,” the case’s lead prosecutor.

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