The Operation Varsity Blues parents who have chosen to contest charges await trial before Nathaniel Gorton, a federal judge who has imposed one sentence in the case to date. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia) Gorton has not yet determined how the defendants would be grouped, USA Today reported. Upon questioning from the defense, Kelley said husbands and wives in the trial would likely be grouped together but did not comment further. The number of parents who will stand trial may decrease if more guilty pleas are entered. The records included an email exchange suggesting that Loughlin and Giannulli rejected legitimate offers of application assistance from a University official before opting to collaborate with Singer to falsify athletic recruitment profiles for their daughters and gain them admission to the University — evidence that may weaken the couple’s argument that they believed the $500,000 they paid for the fraudulent admissions were donations, not bribes. Dates have not yet been set for the trials of parents fighting the charges. The next status conference is scheduled for Feb. 27 before Gorton. In a motion filed last month, Loughlin and Giannulli’s defense claimed the federal government was withholding evidence that scheme organizer William “Rick” Singer had told them the money they paid to secure their daughters’ admission would go toward a worthy cause. The government denied the allegations and filed a joint status report Jan. 10 accusing 34 parents of withholding materials that could be used to prosecute the charges; it then released 480 pages of academic and financial records, emails and phone call transcripts from the federal investigation Wednesday. Parents charged in the admissions scandal may be separated into three groups for trial and sentencing, a judge said in court Friday. Fifteen of the 36 parents named in the case, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty and are contesting charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley, a federal judge who will oversee a status hearing scheduled for May 2 for the parents who have pleaded not guilty to charges in the case, said that Nathaniel Gorton, the U.S. District Court judge who will preside over the parents’ trials, favors staggered trials resembling those employed in a 2018 federal gang case.
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