BOSTON (CN) – Lori Loughlin and her husband mounted a united front Tuesday, waiving their right to separate lawyers ahead of a trial on the admissions bribery scandal that has already netted 15 plea deals from other parents.
With her fashion-designer spouse Mossimo Giannulli, the “Full House” actress became the latest of the 19 parents fighting their charges to come before U.S. District Judge Mary Kelley.
Loughlin and Giannullo are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughter admitted into the University of Southern California as a part of the university’s crew team, despite the daughter having no experience in the sport, as athletic admissions are not held to USC’s otherwise rigorous academic standards.
In the spring, the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues swept up the families, along with numerous coaches and college administrators accused of having traded bribes to manipulate either the SAT scores or athletic standings of teens applying to selective colleges.
Rick Singer, the scheme’s ringleader, pleaded guilty in March, followed soon after by celebrity mom Felicity Huffman.
With the abundance of parent and coach defendants, and an even greater number of lawyers involved, Judge Kelley told Loughlin and Giannulli on Tuesday that he wanted to ensure no conflict of interest derails the case.
“It is my understanding you have potential and, I think, actually have conflicts of interests,” Kelley told the couple this afternoon at Moakley Federal Court in South Boston.
Kelley was referring to the fact that both Loughlin and Giannullo are using Latham & Watkins for their defenses, while Giannullo is using an additional attorney from Donnelly Conroy & Gelhaar, which is also representing co-defendant Davina Isackson.
“They decided they want Latham to represent them jointly,” attorney William Trach said.
Isackson has already pleaded guilty, as did her husband, to claims that they paid $600,000 in stocks to get their two daughters into USC and the University of California, Los Angeles. She may be called as a witness against the defendants that have pleaded not guilty.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen urged the defendants not to waive their right to an attorney that would be solely loyal to them alone, especially if either Loughlin or Giannullo has a stronger case than the other.
“There’s also an issue in who is making payments to Mr. Singer,” said Eric Rosen. “So, I do believe there are some limitations to this united-front defense.”
Although Isackson has already admitted guilt, Loughlin and Giannullo’s defense will hinge on how much they knew of Singer’s scam.
George Vien, one of Giannullo’s attorneys with Donnelly Conroy, said he did not expect Isackson to be called to the stand, nor does he intend to cross-examine Isackson if she does appear.
“It’s a question of what it is that they knew about whatever Singer may or may not have been doing,” Vien said.