Florida residents will have likely read or seen recent media reports about a college admission scandal that involves some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Many of the celebrities accused of paying a college counselor tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure places at prestigious universities for their children have chosen to avoid protracted trials by entering guilty pleas, but “90210” and “Fuller House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband maintain that they are innocent and have entered not guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to defraud a federal program and money laundering.
Motion to have charges dismissed denied by federal judge
Attorneys representing the 53-year-old Loughlin and her 56-year-old husband argued that the charges against their clients should be dropped because the college counselor at the center of the alleged scheme gathered evidence for law enforcement by making telephone calls that were rehearsed and recorded. They also accused U.S. attorneys of not turning over exculpatory evidence. On May 8, a federal judge in Massachusetts denied the motion to dismiss.
Judge chastises prosecutors
The judge ruled that the matters raised in the motion should be left to the jury to decide. He also pointed out that defense attorneys would be given the opportunity to question the college counselor during the trial. While the judge did not determine that prosecutors had failed to turn over exculpatory evidence in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland, he did admonish U.S. attorneys for not making the evidence available to defense attorneys sooner.
Cases involving white-collar crimes rarely go to trial
U.S. attorneys tend to move forward only after investigators have gathered overwhelming and compelling evidence, which is why the vast majority of federal criminal cases are resolved when defendants enter into plea bargains. This is especially true when white-collar crimes are involved as the most important evidence in these cases is usually financial records and other documents. If you have been charged with embezzlement, fraud or money laundering, an attorney with experience in this area could assess the evidence against you and advise you as to whether or not entering into a negotiated plea agreement would be prudent.