Six more sentences for parents bribing their children into college.

Georgetown University, which along with USC, seems to be one of the more popular destination of parents in the college admissions scandal. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Been a while since I updated the sentences so richly earned by parents in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scam.  Six more parents have learned the consequences of cheating and bribing their darlings into schools, usually as fake athletes.

Punishment for not pleading guilty.

Of particular note is two men who went to trial earned 15 months and a year plus a day.  The other four in this update who all seem to have been into the scheme to roughly the same extent, earned 6 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 weeks, and 2 months.

See a pattern?

There is a brutal penalty to be paid in the United States for insisting on a trial by jury of your peers.  In this small sample, the two who demanded trial earned average of 13.5 months average. The four who pleaded out earned average of 6.5 weeks, or 1.6 months.

That is a difference of 11.9 months.  That is about a year. Or, 8.4 times longer.

Six sentences

#32 – John Wilson –

2/17/22 – Mercury News – Man who paid $1.2 million to secure kits’ admissions to Stanford, USC and Harvard receives longest prison sentence yet in college scandal John Wilson, age 62 paid over $1.2 mil to get three children admitted to college, all of them pretending to be star athletic recruits.

He was convicted in October 2021 on eight counts, count ‘em eight:  mail/wire fraud, federal program bribery conspiracy, triple counts of wire fraud/honest service fraud, double count federal program bribery, and final count of tax evasion.

Back in 2013, he paid $220K to et his sone into USC as water polo player.  His attorney defended the admission saying the son actually played on the water polo team as a freshman.

For his twin daughters, he paid $1.5M to get them into Harvard and Stanford as star athletes.

Sentencing for John Wilson is 15 months in federal prison, $200K fine, 400 hours community service, and then two years supervised release.

As mentioned above, notice the harsh penalty for a defendant taking a case to trial – 15 months is now the longest sentence for any parent.

#31 – Gamal Abdelaziz –

2/10/22 – Mercury News – Ex-Wynn Resorts executive sentenced to 1 year in prison for bribe to secure daughter’s USC admissionGamal Abdelaziz, age 64, paid $300K to get his daughter into USC as a pretend basketball player.  Scheme, according to the article, listed fake awards for the daughter and photo of another player submitted as the daughter. Article says she didn’t even play on her high school b-ball team.

He was convicted in October 2021 on two counts, if I read the article correctly.  One of federal programs bribery conspiracy. The other count was the complexly phrased mail fraud & wire fraud conspiracy and honest service mail fraud and honest service wire fraud. 

The mail fraud and wire fraud are interesting charges. That means, according to my little pea brain, using the telephone or first class mail to cheat someone or commit some sort of fraud.  It is not the actual bribing your kids way into college, faking that they are an athlete, stealing someone else’s admission spot, or scamming the school that is a felony. It is scheming with someone which constitutes conspiracy or cheating while using the mail or phone in the scheme that will get you a conviction and time in all-concrete federal housing.

For his scheming, Gamal Abdelaziz earned one year plus one day in federal prison, a $250K fine, 400 hours community service, and two years supervised release after jail time.

What’s going on with that one year plus one day thing?

In the federal system, a person earns 54 days early release for every full year of the sentence. Thus, by specifying a year and a day, the judge will allow Mr. Abdelaziz to get early release if he behaves himself.

Again, notice the go-to-trial penalty.  Sentence of 1 year + 1 day was the longest sentence to date up to that time. This is also the first parent to demand a jury trial.

10/8/21 – NPR – 2 parents are convicted in the 1st trial of the “Varsity Blues” admission scandal – As discussed in two previous articles, Gamal Abdelaziz and John B. Wilson were convicted at trail. Jury deliberated for 10 hours.

This is the first trial of parents. Up to this point, all the parents sentenced have pleaded guilty.

Article says three more parents face trials in January 2022.

10/8/21 – Wall Street Journal – Two Parents Found Guilty of All Charges in College Admissions Cheating CaseA few details not mentioned in discussion of previous three articles:

Mr. Abdeliziz’s son quit the water polo team after one semester.  Mr. Wilson’s daughter who went to USC as a basketball player did not play on the team after admission. She did not make the high school varsity team.

Judge Nathaniel Gorton told the jury they ought to consider that a college admission offer constitutes property which could be stolen and that payments for that property can be considered a bribe.

Claims of not knowing there was a scheme to fake his daughter’s admission were undercut by wire-tapped conversations of the dad and Mr. William “Rick” Singer coordinating their cover stories. 

Also undercutting the claim is comment in article above reporting Mr. Singer joking that the profile created for Mr. Adbelaziz’s daughter as a basketball player was so good that the USC athletic director will reuse it for any other women who didn’t even play basketball.

Article says six more people face trial, including three parents, coach from Wake Forest, coach from USC, and administrator in USC athletic department. Parents go to trial in 1/22 and the two coaches in 11/21.

#30-  Marci Palatella

12/16/21 – – Department of Justice – Investigations of College Admissions and Testing Bribery SchemeOn 12/16/21 Marci Palatella, age 66, earned a sentence of six weeks in prison, $250,000 fine, 500 hours community service, and two years supervised release. A new wrinkle in this sentence is the first six months of supervised release are under home confinement, in other words house arrest. She pleaded to one count conspiracy to commit honest service mail fraud.  She paid $75,000 to have her son’s SAT answers correctly. She also paid $500,000 to get her son into USC as a football player.  Her son wasn’t being recruit as such and did not ever play on the USC team.

Bureau of Prison website lists Mari Palatella, register 25458-111 as released from Dublin FCI on 2/22/22.

#29 – Elisabeth Kimmel

12/9/21 – Department of Justice – Investigations of College Admissions and Testing Bribery SchemeElisabeth Kimmel earned a sentence of six weeks in prison, $250,000 fine, 500 hours community service, and 2 years supervised release. Government claimed she paid $275,000 to get her daughter into Georgetown as pretend tennis player and paid $250,000 to get her son into USC as pretend pole vaulter.

Bureau of Prison website lists Elisabeth Kimmel, register 84193-298 as released on 2/18/22.

#28 – Homayoun Zadeh

11/11/21 – Department of Justice – California Parent Sentenced in College Admissions CaseHomayoun Zadeh, age 60, earned a sentence of six weeks in prison, $20,000 fine, $8,414 restitution, 250 hours community service, and one year supervised release.  He pleaded on one count tax evasion (specifically filing a false tax return). Part of the deal was dropping federal program bribery and money laundering charges.

He paid $100,000 to Mr. Singer’s foundation to get his daughter into USC. Since it appeared the payments were to a legit charity, Mr. Zadeh persuaded the feds to drop felony charges of federal programs bribery along with money laundering conspiracy.

Bureau of Prison website lists Homayoun Zadeh, register 77804-112, as released on 2/4/22.

#27 – Mark Hauser

5/27/21 – Department of Justice – California Executive Sentenced in College Admissions CaseMark Hauser, age 60, earned a sentence of two months in prison, $250,000 fine, 300 hours community service, and three years supervised release. He pleaded guilty to “one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.” He paid the mastermind of this scam $40,000 to help his daughter cheat on her ACT exam. Of this amount, $25,000 went to the person who changed the test answers and of that $10,000 went to the testing administrator.

Bureau of Prison website lists Mark Hauser, register 31702-509, as released on 8/27/21.

Previous discussion of Mr. Hauser are worth repeating because it shows the severity of collateral consequences of fraud:

9/25/20 – Insurance Journal – Hauser Leads Guilty in College Admission PlotAccording to the article Mark Hauser admitted in his guilty plea that he paid $40,000 to have a proctor correct the answers on his daughter’s ACT test.

Mr. Hauser is an executive at the insurance and investment company which bears his name. As one of the pricey collateral consequences he has richly earned, the pending sale of his company was canceled. The sale would probably have been the culmination of his career, cashing out on all those decades of hard work. The sale was canceled. I will make a not so wild guess that the company is probably unsellable.

In addition, he will most likely lose all the licenses he personally has as an insurance agent and any licenses to own or participate in management of an insurance company.

In essence, the economic value of his life work disappeared.

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