May 8, 2020 | 2:06pm | Updated May 8, 2020 | 2:39pm
Former Manhattan federal prosecutor Alvin Bragg said the high court’s unanimous Thursday decision “certainly helps” a defense claim that admission to a competitive college can’t be considered “property” in a prosecution for fraud.
“I’m sure that they did a happy dance. Their intellectual argument was accepted by the Supreme Court,” said Bragg, who’s running for Manhattan district attorney.
Another former Manhattan federal prosecutor, Paul Krieger, said that if he was representing the “Full House” actress and her fashion-designer hubby, “I would try and mine this decision for whatever I could.”
“It’s pretty clearly stated that in order to be fraud, it has to be obtaining money or property,” Krieger said.
“It would be a big win if they could knock out one or two of those charges.”
The Supreme Court ruling overturned the convictions of two former allies of ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, on grounds that they didn’t try to “obtain money or property” through a political payback scheme against the mayor of Fort Lee that repeatedly snarled traffic on the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
“The evidence the jury heard no doubt shows wrongdoing — deception, corruption, abuse of power,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote.
“But the federal fraud statutes at issue do not criminalize all such conduct.”
Brooklyn Law School professor Miriam Baer said that “on its face,” the Bridgegate case is “quite different from the ‘Varsity Blues’ prosecution” facing Loughlin and Giannulli because they’re accused of a “basic bribery scheme,” as compared to a corrupt abuse of power.
“From that perspective, Loughlin’s prosecutors need not be worried,” Baer said.
“But it strikes me as a mistake to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision … A 9-0 opinion such as [in Bridgegate] demonstrates the court’s discomfort with overly broad definitions of ‘property’ under the mail and wire fraud laws.”
Loughlin and Giannulli face trial in October over allegations they paid $500,000 so their daughters could get into the University of Southern California.
Isabella Rose Giannulli and Olivia Jade Giannulli were both recruited for the USC rowing team based in part on fake athletic profiles submitted to the school, according to prosecutors.
The scheme was allegedly masterminded by former admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, who pleaded guilty last year in a cooperation deal and is awaiting sentencing.