Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are set to go to trial in October 2020 for their alleged role in the college admissions scandal but new evidence has come to light which might play in their favor.
Loughlin and Giannulli's attorneys said in a filing late Wednesday that prosecutors provided them with notes from Rick Singer's iPhone, who is the alleged mastermind behind the bribery scam. Singer says in the notes that FBI agents yelled at him and told him to lie to get parents to say things in recorded phone calls that could be used against them.
The lawyers also say Singer's notes indicate that FBI agents told him to lie by saying he told parents who participated in the so-called “side door” scheme that the payments were bribes, not legitimate donations.
"The information that came out recently about the contemporaneous notes Mr. Singer took on his iPhone will ultimately embolden Lori Loughlin, her husband, and their defense team's beliefs that going to trial is in her best interest," said David P. Shapiro, a San Diego-based criminal attorney, told Fox News.
"The concern that the prosecution should have taking a case like this to trial with this evidence now being unveiled is why would the FBI infer that Mr. Singer lied to the subjects of the investigation, he continued.
Shapiro -- who is not involved in the Loughlin case -- added, "From a defense attorney's perspective, that is something that they will feast on to argue that in this instance the FBI is reaching to prove a case that they might not be able to prove otherwise. The other element to it is whether or not you want to call the [money exhange] a donation or a bribe."
"The defense is certainly going to want to say the word donation over bribe but by changing the name it doesn't necessarily get them away from the fact that if believed to be true, what Loughlin and Gianulli did is still a crime."
But Shapiro believes that "overall the revelation about Singer's notes is something that strengthens the defense."
On Thursday, a judge set the trial date for the infamous couple -- October 5 in Boston federal court. Loughlin and Giannulli will be tried alongside six other prominent parents accused of rigging the college admissions process. Seven others still fighting the charges will go to trial in January 2021, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said.
If found guilty during the trial, Loughlin and Giannulli are facing decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
They pled not guilty to all charges -- and turned down a government plea deal -- last April after news broke of the scandal in early March. But while Loughlin and Giannulli were out on $1 million bail bond, they were hit with additional charges of money laundering and bribery.
Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into USC as recruits to the rowing team, though neither of them was a rower. Authorities say Loughlin and Giannulli helped create fake athletic profiles for the teens by sending the consultant at the center of the scheme, Singer, photos of their teens posing on rowing machines.
The money was funneled through a sham charity operated by Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme, authorities say.
Six months ago Emmy-winner Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in a federal prison for her admitted role in the college admissions bribery case. She pleaded guilty for paying $15,000 to have a proctor correct her oldest daughter’s SAT answers.
Huffman only wound up serving 11 days in a California prison but was also given one year of probation, 250 hours of community service to complete and a $30,000 fine.
On Tuesday, the heiress to the Hot Pockets fortune was sentenced to five months in prison. Michelle Janavs apologized in court for abandoning her moral compass and hurting her family and friends.
“I am so very sorry that I tried to create an unfair advantage for my children,” she said.
The judge told Janavs that prison time was needed to deter others who might have the gall to use their wealth to break the law and dismissed her argument that her actions were motivated by a love for her children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.