U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani granted a motion in which Larson LLP client and former University of Southern California (USC) water polo coach Jovan Vavic and former USC athletic department administrator Donna Heinel asked to be tried separately in the upcoming “Varsity Blues” college admissions trial, Law360 reported.
The only remaining defendants in the case that started with 12, Ms. Heinel will proceed with the trial scheduled for November 2021 and Mr. Vavic will “face a jury at a later date,” which has yet to be scheduled.
“The court severs [Mr.] Vavic and [Ms.] Heinel’s trials in the interest of justice and to avoid potential prejudice,” Law360 noted that Judge Talwani wrote in her ruling. During a hearing on Oct. 4, she stated, “My sense of this is that it would be very hard to unravel this for the jury and say this piece of evidence you heard can only be considered against this person.”
Former Wake Forest University volleyball coach William Ferguson was originally the third remaining defendant to be tried alongside Mr. Vavic and Ms. Heinel in November, up until “striking a rare deferred prosecution deal on [Oct. 12] that experts said may be intended as a government olive branch to other defendants still fighting charges,” Law360 explained.
“As we have said from the beginning, Coach Vavic was never part of any conspiracy to hurt the university for which he won 14 national water polo championships and to which he devoted his career,” partner Stephen G. Larson told Law360. “The government finally dismissed the overwrought and unfounded [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] charges two months ago. We hope the government does the right thing and brings this misguided prosecution of Coach Vavic to an end by dismissing him as a defendant.”
Partners Koren L. Bell and Paul A. Rigali are representing Mr. Vavic along with Stephen.
Read the full article by Chris Villani of Law360 covering the trial severance here.