Firm Heads to “Varsity Blues” Trial Despite Ethics Claim Against the Government

Water Polo Team

Law360 reported on the “fiery” pretrial hearing on March 3, during which U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani stated that the trial for Larson client and former University of Southern California (USC) water polo coach Jovan Vavic would proceed.

The hearing followed Mr. Vavic’s motion to dismiss the charges against him in the ”Varsity Blues” college admissions case, which was filed on March 1 and alleged that the “prosecutors violated ethical rules” by turning “a blind eye while scheme ringleader William ‘Rick’ Singer hid millions of dollars overseas.” The motion refers to a letter that Michael Kendall, an attorney at White & Case LLP representing a parent charged with earning his son admission to USC through bribery with Mr. Vavic, wrote to Judge Talwani detailing such allegations against the government.

Partner Kori Bell, who represents Mr. Vavic with partner Stephen G. Larson, asserted that “prosecutors were aware of ‘concrete, specific, and corroborated’ proof that [Mr.] Singer laundered money with his brother, Cliff Singer, and said they would not investigate further in violation of their own policies of practice,” Law360 noted.

“We have a very troubling track record here,” Kori said, which Law360 added refers “to past allegations that prosecutors had sat on evidence.”

“We now know that there is at least the possibility that Mr. Singer and Cliff Singer were not only engaged in these money laundering activities, but they were moving money overseas in foreign accounts,” Kori explained. “It constitutes a significant tacit benefit that was heretofore undisclosed where essentially the government has looked the other way.”

Kori, Law360 reported, referred to what Mr. Kendall called “a quid pro quo—the term the government uses to describe the allegations against [Mr.] Vavic and the other defendants—where [Mr.] Singer may have told the story the government wanted to be told in exchange for not getting any opposition to moving his money abroad.”

Stephen said “the government not looking into this allegation is contrary to what it is supposed to do and may result in the jury getting an incomplete picture of the evidence,” Law360 wrote.

“They are trying to take this case and make it as small as possible, so the jury doesn’t see what happened here,” Stephen stated. “What happened here, this admitted liar, money launderer, international felon, has put together a series of lies, something as significant as international money laundering. Any juror would want to weigh that in evaluating the credibility of his statements.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen E. Frank responded by calling the allegations “attacks on the government’s integrity,” at which point, Law360 reported, Judge Talwani “cut [Mr.] Frank off sharply” and said, “You can waste all the paper you want on someone’s integrity. I will find it a much more persuasive brief if you focus on what did or didn’t happen. Get everyone’s pride off the table and we will have a much better day here.”

Stephen and Kori are headed to Boston for jury selection on March 7. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks, with opening statements taking place as early as March 10. Mr. Vavic is the only remaining defendant who has not been convicted in the “Varsity Blues” case.

Read the full article by Chris Villani of Law360 covering the pretrial hearing here (subscription required).


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