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Loughlin, Giannulli plead not guilty in college scam

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BOSTON — Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are pleading not guilty to charges they took part in the sweeping college admissions bribery scam, according to court documents filed Monday.

Loughlin and Giannulli said they are waiving their right to appear in Boston federal court for their arraignment and plead not guilty to the two charges against them. The judge must approve their request for a waiver to appear.

The couple is charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though neither is a rower.

Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli haven’t publicly addressed the allegations against them.

They are among 50 people charged in the nationwide scam, which authorities say also involved rigging college entrance exam scores.

It’s the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. The scandal embroiled elite universities across the country and laid bare the lengths to which status-seeking parents will go to secure their children a coveted spot.

The couple and more than a dozen other parents were hit last week with a money laundering conspiracy charge on top of the mail fraud conspiracy charge they were already facing. Several other indicted parents have also filed court documents entering not guilty pleas.

Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and 12 other parents have agreed to plead guilty . Huffman is scheduled to appear in Boston on May 21 to enter her plea.

Rick Singer, the consultant at the centre of the scheme, pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy on March 12, the same day the allegations against the parents and coaches were made public in the so-called Operations Varsity Blues investigation.

Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press


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Implementation of Divorce Act reforms delayed eight months by pandemic

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OTTAWA — Highly anticipated reforms to Canadian divorce law have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reforms were to have gone into effect on July 1 but Justice Minister David Lametti says that has been pushed back to March 1, 2021.

He says courts across the country are currently hearing only urgent family law matters during the pandemic as they attempt to abide by restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.

Lametti says that, combined with how much governments are focused on the health crisis, has made it impossible to take the steps needed to implement the reforms.

Postponing the changes was decided in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, who Lametti says need time to adjust their own laws and regulations to be compatible with the federal reforms.

The reforms, which will apply only to legally married couples, are aimed at putting more emphasis on the interests of the child in custody decisions and would for the first time require the courts to take into account any instances of family violence.

“We understand how important the changes to the Divorce Act are to Canadians affected by separation and divorce, especially to vulnerable family members,” Lametti said in a statement Friday.

“We are working hard with our partners to implement these changes.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in domestic abuse as schools and workplaces shut down and Canadians isolated themselves at home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara faces assault, break and enter, harassment charges

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OTTAWA — Ontario MP Marwan Tabbara “stepped back” from the governing Liberal caucus Friday after multiple charges of assault, break and enter and harassment were laid against him.

In a statement issued late Friday, the two-term MP for the riding of Kitchener South-Hespeler said he’s receiving counselling for anxiety and depression.

“Other than to state unequivocally that every incident of violence is unacceptable and inexcusable, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further while this matter is before the court,” he said.

Tabbara said he deplores “violence in all its forms” and believes “strongly in the right of every individual to live a life free of the hurt and trauma of physical, verbal or emotional abuse.”

“I am currently facing criminal charges which arose in April. There are mandatory steps that must be taken to address a criminal case, and those steps take time, particularly with delays due to the pandemic,” he added.

“Meanwhile, I continue to receive counselling and treatment for anxiety and depression, which I have been living with for some time.”

Tabbara has been charged with two counts of assault, one count of breaking and entering to commit an indictable offence, and one count of criminal harassment. The charges follow his arrest on April 10 in Guelph, Ont.

Until the matter is resolved, Tabbara said he “will be stepping back from the Liberal caucus.” He promised to “continue to work diligently” for his constituents.

The Prime Minister’s Office said it only learned about the charges Friday morning and was “looking into the matter.”

Tabbara, first elected in 2015 and re-elected last fall, is scheduled to appear in court June 19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press





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june, 2020

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