Jovan Vavic’s Defense Rests in “Varsity Blues” Trial

Water Polo Team

Within two trial days, partners Stephen G. Larson and Kori Bell finished their defense of the former University of Southern California (USC) water polo coach today with one summary witness, Law360 reported.

In the nearly three-week trial, Stephen and Kori are defending Mr. Vavic against allegations that he accepted bribes from the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scheme mastermind and ringleader William “Rick” Singer for securing admission spots for applicants from wealthy families. Today, Law360 reported, the defense’s witness, former FBI agent Joseph Consoli, “read a number of emails purportedly demonstrating that giving a boost in the admissions process to families with deep pockets was par for the course at the Los Angeles school.”

One email exchange detailed former USC athletic director Pat Haden’s first introduction to Mr. Singer, referred to him as “one of the top college counselors and a great guy” and that it could be a “real opportunity” for the USC athletic department to meet Mr. Singer, Law360 summarized.

Law360 also noted Mr. Vavic’s argument that “he never brought anyone in whom he did not believe to be a legitimate water polo player . . . In one email read [today], [Mr.] Vavic told a colleague that a certain recruit was ‘very weak’ and ‘will never play for us’ . . . , drawing a response suggesting that the recruit-in-question could be a team manager and that ‘his dad was looking to support the department.'”

After testimony closed and the jury was released, a “lengthy” hearing ensued before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani. Stephen and Kori “argued that the government came up short in trying to prove that their client knowingly entered into some sort of overarching conspiracy,” Law 360 detailed.

“The trial testimony, [Kori] argued, showed that corrupt USC administrator Donna Heinel worked with [Mr.] Singer directly without the knowledge of many of the college coaches. And [Kori] said it was unclear what was really discussed in a 2009 conversation with former USC soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin, who told the jury at the start of the trial that the water polo coach encouraged him to put aside his hesitation about duping USC’s admissions committee with phony recruits,” Law360 relayed.

Stephen did say, “in discussing the credibility of [Mr.] Vavic’s alleged co-conspirators . . . that it would have been ‘worthless’ to call [Mr.] Singer” as a witness.

“He probably would have played everyone in this courtroom,” Stephen stated. “That’s what he does.”

Closing arguments are slated for April 7, after which point Mr. Vavic’s case will be in the hands of the jury.

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


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