Ex-USC coach’s school admissions rip-off conviction tossed, will get new trial as decide questions the place cash went

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A former College of Southern California coach accused in a sweeping school admissions scandal has a brand new shot at securing an acquittal after a federal court docket decide tossed his conviction and ordered a brand new trial.

US District Decide Indira Talwani discovered that some proof, launched by the federal government in Jovan Vavic’s fraud and bribery case, was unreliable and that prosecutors erred of their argument to jurors about some alleged bribe cash. Vavic was a adorned water polo coach for the Southern California college.

Vavic, who guided USC’s males’s and girls’s water polo groups to 16 nationwide championships, was convicted in April after being arrested in March 2019 within the headline-grabbing “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation.

Prosecutors accused Vavic of taking greater than $200,000 in bribes in return for faux athletic credentials and to designate school candidates as water polo athletes to get them into USC.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL: EX-USC WATER POLO COACH FOUND GUILTY OF TAKING BRIBES, TEST TAKER GETS PRISON

Jovan Vavic, a former College of Southern California water polo coach, arrives at federal court docket in Boston on March 25, 2019, to face costs in a nationwide school admissions bribery scandal.
(AP Picture/Steven Senne, File)

Prosecutors have additionally stated Vavic helped recruit others into the scheme, pointing to wiretap transcripts wherein Vavic referred to as the association a “win-win” state of affairs and when he inspired a fellow coach with doubts concerning the scheme to “simply do it.”

Prosecutors stated the admissions advisor on the heart of the scheme — Rick Singer — made funds to Vavic’s water polo program and towards Vavic’s youngsters’s non-public faculty tuition.

COLLEGE ADMISSION SCANDAL: FIRST TRIAL IN ALLEGED BRIBERY SCHEME HEADS TO JURY

Vavic’s attorneys argued at trial that he was simply doing what he may to boost cash for his dominant program as athletic officers on the elite Los Angeles faculty had sued. They argued he was all the time appearing in the most effective pursuits of the college and his workforce, by no means lied and by no means took a bribe.

The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse is reflected in melted snow, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Boston.

The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse is mirrored in melted snow, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Boston.
(AP Picture/Michael Dwyer)

Below the decide’s directions to the jury, prosecutors needed to present that the funds “served the defendants’ pursuits and harmed the college’s,” the decide wrote.

Nevertheless, some alleged bribe cash went to the water polo program — not Vavic himself — and “there was no proof within the document to recommend that Vavic was taking USC Water Polo workforce cash for his personal profit,” the decide wrote. Even nonetheless, prosecutors argued he was appearing opposite to the college’s pursuits in accepting that cash, the decide wrote.

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“Nevertheless distasteful, there may be nothing inherently unlawful a few non-public establishment accepting cash in change for a pupil’s admission,” Talwani stated. “The federal government’s argument is additional undermined right here the place there was no suggestion that USC returned the cash as soon as the scheme was revealed.”

Greater than 50 folks had been convicted within the “Operation Varsity Blues” case. They embody TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and Loughlin’s clothier husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

Vavic’s legal professional, Stephen Larson, stated in an e mail that the decide’s ruling “protects Coach Vavic from a wrongful conviction.”

“In granting a brand new trial, the Court docket acknowledges what we now have lengthy argued — the federal government’s case is constructed on the knowingly false statements of admitted fraudster Rick Singer,” he stated. “As we now have demonstrated, and the Court docket now confirms, there isn’t a proof that Coach Vavic ever used donations to the USC water polo program for his personal profit from him.”

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Massachusetts US Lawyer Rachael Rollins stated her workplace is reviewing all of its choices in response to the ruling.

“We’re very disillusioned on this ruling, which we don’t consider is grounded within the info or the legislation,” she stated in an emailed assertion. “The jury convicted Mr. Vavic on each single depend and we consider they acquired it proper.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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