Attorneys representing California resident Lori Loughlin and 13 other parents accused of bribery, fraud and money laundering linked to the recent college admissions scandal have filed a motion to have all of the charges against their clients dismissed. The motion was filed in a Boston federal court on March 25. The attorneys say that federal prosecutors encouraged the college counselor at the center of the scandal to lie to parents during phone calls to coax them into confessing. The phone calls, which were monitored and recorded by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, are seen as the most compelling evidence against the parents.
The nature of the phone calls came to light when notes the counselor made on his smartphone were turned over to defense attorneys. In the notes, the counselor claims that FBI agents pressured him to say whatever he had to say to elicit confessions. Defense attorneys say the recordings exonerate their clients and a dismissal is warranted because U.S. attorneys failed to turn over the evidence in a timely manner. The parents are scheduled to go on trial in October.
More than 30 defendants charged in connection with the college admissions scandal have chosen to avoid going to trial by entering into plea agreements. They have been sentenced to custodial terms ranging from two weeks to nine months. Loughlin is accused of paying the counselor $500,000 to fabricate athletic credentials for her two daughters. She faces up to 50 years in a federal prison if she is convicted on all charges.
The penalties for committing white-collar crimes are severe, which is why individuals accused of fraud often choose to cooperate with federal agents and prosecutors. However, the rules governing the disclosure of exculpatory evidence are strict, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have the charges against their clients dismissed when they appear to have been violated.