“Varsity Blues” Defendants Ask to Split Up Trial

Water Polo Team

In a motion filed before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani, the former University of Southern California (USC) water polo coach and Larson LLP client Jovan Vavic and one of his co-defendants asked to be tried separately in the upcoming “Varsity Blues” college admissions trial, Law360 reported. 

Partners Stephen G. Larson, Koren L. Bell, and Paul A. Rigali are representing Mr. Vavic, who filed a motion on Aug. 16 arguing that the government “improperly lumped [him] together” with his co-defendants. Donna Heinel, a former USC athletic department administrator, agreed and asked to join the motion, noting that “the prosecution’s case, at best, charges individual crimes against individual people who should not be tried together,” Law360 explained.

Mr. Vavic’s motion argued that “an indictment is defective and subject to dismissal if it improperly joins two or more co-defendants—as this hodgepodge of a prosecution does here without any meaningful alleged connection between [Mr.] Vavic and his co-defendants.”

The article reports that Mr. Vavic and Ms. Heinel will be tried alongside former Wake Forest University volleyball coach William Ferguson in November.

However, Mr. Vavic’s motion states that “in light of the indictment’s structurally and substantively separate, defendant-specific vignettes—allegations that purport to describe, at best, individual crimes premised on the defendants’ distinct bilateral transactions with Singer; distinct acts; and distinct at-issue applicants, payments, and institutions—trying [Mr.] Vavic together with [Ms.] Heinel and [Mr.] Ferguson violates the principle that individual alleged crimes require individual prosecutions … The dangers of transference of guilt from [Ms.] Heinel and [Mr.] Ferguson to [Mr.] Vavic in this context—particularly given the fact that Heinel’s conduct is also alleged to involve USC—is at an apex.”

Read the full article by Chris Villani of Law360 covering Mr. Vavic’s motion here


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