The corrupt college counselor at the center of the admissions scandal that swept up dozens of wealthy parents has retracted explosive claims that federal agents pressured him to lie, according to a court filing by prosecutors.
Defense attorneys for “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and other parents facing trial on conspiracy charges have cited the claims to argue that the government pushed the scam’s mastermind, William “Rick” Singer, to make up evidence against his former clients.
In a telephone interview with prosecutors last week, Singer said he made the claims in notes on his phone in October 2018 before he realized his behavior was criminal, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation summary of the interview. Singer knew funneling millions of dollars from parents to coaches at elite colleges in exchange for their children’s admission as athletic recruits was “wrong,” but he didn’t know it was illegal, according to the FBI summary.
“Singer stated that he always knew he was doing a quid pro quo, and now he understands that is the same as bribery,” the FBI said in the summary. He has pleaded guilty to racketeering and obstruction of justice and cooperated with prosecutors.
The defense has asked U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton to throw out the case over government misconduct, noting that prosecutors didn’t hand over Singer’s phone notes for a year. Gorton called the misconduct allegations “serious and disturbing” and ordered the U.S. to explain the notes. In addition to the Singer interview, the government presented affidavits from an Internal Revenue Service special agent and an FBI agent who denied Singer was ever pressed to fabricate evidence.
Many parents snared in the scandal say they thought their payments were legitimate donations going to support college athletic programs. Prosecutors have called the distinction meaningless and the conduct an illegal exchange.
The judge ordered the defense to respond to the prosecutors’ filing by May 1.
©2020 Bloomberg News
Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.