“Varsity Blues” Racketeering Charges Dropped

Water Polo Team

The racketeering conspiracy charges against Larson LLP client Jovan Vavic and his co-defendants in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions case have been dropped, as covered by Law360

On Aug. 31, the federal government prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to “dismiss count one of their second superseding indictment, which leveled racketeering conspiracy charges at former Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst, former University of Southern California senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, former Wake Forest University women’s volleyball coach William Ferguson, and former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic,” Law360 reported.

“The defense has long challenged the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act allegations. While Judge Talwani denied a defense motion to dismiss the allegations as insufficient in November, she signaled that ‘apparent inconsistency in the government’s reasoning’ for applying the RICO statute positioned it for an uphill battle proving the conspiracy to a jury,” the article explained.

“The defendants had argued that the allegations amount to a so-called hub-and-spoke conspiracy, where they had no relationships with one another and nothing linked them other than their individual dealings with [scheme mastermind William “Rick”] Singer as a central figure.” The article noted Judge Talwani’s statement in November 2020 that, “courts have rejected hub-and-spoke RICO conspiracies that lacked a ‘rim’ — some uniting factor demonstrating individual spokes functioned as a unit.”

Partners Stephen G. Larson, Koren L. Bell, and Paul A. Rigali are representing Mr. Vavic. against the remaining charges, which will be brought to trial in November 2021. Stephen told Law360“We are certainly pleased that the government has recognized that the racketeering charges are not supported by the evidence, and in our view should have never been brought. In fact, our client is innocent of all charges, and we believe the entire case should be dismissed.”

Read the full article by Max Jaeger of Law360 here.


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