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Actress Lori Loughlin has claimed that both prosecutors and the federal government are bullying her with public intimidation tactics for not accepting a plea deal.
Last year, Loughlin and her husband entered a not guilty plea after being charged with mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy in the infamous college bribery scam. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston charged them with “conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to use bribery to cheat on college entrance exams and to facilitate their children’s admission to selective colleges and universities as purported athletic recruits.”
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly worked in concert with William “Rick” Singer to bribe college officials and rig the entrance exams so that their daughters could be accepted into elite universities.
As reported by Fox News, the prosecution released private photos last week that allegedly showed Loughlin’s daughters “posing as rowers” so that they could gain admission to the University of Southern California. Speaking to Us Weekly, a source close to Loughlin claimed that the photos were released as a tool of intimidation.
“The pictures are obviously extremely inflammatory and controversial, meant to intimidate Lori because she has refused to take a plea deal,” the source said. “The photos were never submitted to USC as part of the application process. Lori’s lawyers will be responding to the photos of the girls on the rowing machine in a legal filing.”
“[She] won’t be bullied or intimidated by the federal government and she believes the jury will recognize it as well,” the source added.
Speaking to People in October of last year, a source close to Loughlin said that the actress feared her refusal to take a plea deal will prompt prosecutors to make an example out of her.
“They feel like this is David versus Goliath,” the source said at the time. “How do you go up against the federal government, when the government has decided to make an example out of you? How can you possibly move forward from this? This stress is about to break them. She is angry, she is sad, but most of all, she is terrified. It just gets worse and worse for her. And you have to remember: Nothing new has happened. They could have charged her with all of this last spring. But they waited. She feels like she is a scapegoat.”
Writing over at Reason, Scott Shackford argued that federal prosecutors were unfairly seeking to “punish” Loughlin for exercising her constitutional right to defend herself in a fair trial, something the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has referred to as the “trial penalty.”
“A full 97 percent of all criminal cases are resolved with plea deals, according to the NACDL,” wrote Shackford. “The NACDL report warns that Americans are essentially losing their Sixth Amendment right to a trial because of the massive charging disparity between the offenses prosecutors offer in a plea deal and the offenses they take to trial. The report notes that ‘the mere decision to charge triggers a domino effect making a guilty plea the only rational choice in most cases. And as trials and hearings decline, so too does government accountability. Government mistakes and misconduct are rarely uncovered, or are simply resolved in a more favorable plea bargain.'”