Hardball: Prosecutors release phony student profile to rebut Loughlin discovery complaint

Two months ago, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli accused prosecutors of misconduct in the Operation Varsity Blues college admission scandal, alleging that they had violated discovery rules to cover up evidence of their innocence. Today, prosecutors fired back by unveiling evidence in a public filing rebutting the defense claim. The release of Olivia Jade’s phony student profile in the case suggests that prosecutors might call their daughter to the stand, NBC reports — or perhaps develop a case against her:

The two-page document, titled Student Profile, states that Olivia Jade, a now 20-year-old social media influencer, participated in a number of crew competitions dating back to 2014 and is a “highly talented” coxswain who “has been successful in both men’s and women’s boats.”

It lists several awards she received including two gold medals at the San Diego Crew Classic, and says she also competed at the Head of the Charles in Boston and the Fault Line Faceoff, and finished in the top three multiple times at the Marin Crew Festival.

But, prosecutors said the listed accomplishments are false as Olivia Jade never participated in crew competitively, and they suggested that someone in the school’s athletic department created the document to help Olivia Jade gain admission to the university. …

Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded not guilty to fraud, bribery and money laundering conspiracy charges. They have claimed in court documents that prosecutors are concealing exculpatory evidence in the case that appears to show that they believed their payments to Singer would be used for legitimate purposes.

The court documents that include Olivia Jade’s fake student profile were released in response to her parents’ claims.

Apparently, prosecutors don’t like being accused of misconduct. Who knew? Note well the tone in their court filing, highlighted by NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez in his report above, in which they strike a rather indignant tone (emphases in original):

The government has not withheld any such evidence based on its disagreement about the merits of the defendants’ requests. (Gov’t Br. at 3-4) In addition, the government has, in a demonstration of its good faith, provided FBI-302 reports of witness interviews to the Court, together with related disclosures, for in camera review. These disclosures make clear that the government is not withholding exculpatory evidence. While the defendants may, understandably, be upset about the lack of exculpatory evidence, the absence of such evidence is a result of their criminal conduct, not any government disclosure violations. …

This case presents no basis to depart from well-established procedures that govern every criminal case, notwithstanding the defense’s histrionic briefs that appear to be written for an audience other than the Court.

Ouch. The attachment of the student profile to this document is a clear shot across the PR bow to the defense. If they want to argue this case in public, prosecutors are warning, they’re prepared to have that fight too.

Business Insider has the government’s filing available in full, but it boils down to sequencing in discovery and a claim from the defense that prosecutors know of exculpatory evidence in their possession. Defense attorneys want full access to all FBI interviews of subjects in the entire Operation Varsity Blues case, which the DoJ says that they are not entitled to access. Those 302s that are relevant to the charges against Loughlin and Giuannulli have already been produced to the court, and prosecutors say nothing relevant to the case exists in others.

Could they be lying? Sure. That strategy presents a couple of problems for the defense, not the least of which is proving it. Do they have evidence of discovery violations, or are they asking the court to go on a fishing expedition? If the court does and can’t find any evidence of it, the judge is going to take a dim view of further requests down the line.

Finally, this student profile and the prepared resumé suggests that someone intended to defraud USC with this application. What kind of exculpatory information would prosecutors have — and that the defense wouldn’t have themselves — that would provide an innocent explanation for this? Along with the two $50,000 cashier’s checks to USC Women’s Athletics that apparently accompanied it?

Not for the first or last time, one has to wonder just what Loughlin and Giannulli are thinking. They should have settled this case long ago when they could have gotten away with a month at Club Fed. The first rule of holes is to stop digging, isn’t it?