In a surprise twist, former Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge signaled Thursday he plans to plead guilty in the college admissions bribery case without first reaching a deal with prosecutors.
The wealthy businessman is accused of paying $525,000 to get two of his kids into the University of Southern California as fake soccer and football team recruits in a case that closely mirrors that of “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin.
Loughlin, accused of paying $500,000 to get her two daughters into USC as bogus rowing recruits, is still fighting her fraud and money laundering charges.
One expert said Hodge might be hoping for mercy now that U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani has so far handed down prison terms of five months or less to several parents already sentenced in the scandal.
“It’s very interesting. Everyone usually wants to make a deal with prosecutors first. But sometimes a compromise might not be in their best interest,” James Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University, told the Daily News Thursday.
“Maybe (Hodge) is thinking, ‘I don’t need the government to be on my side. I know my case, the judge is a fair person, and the sentences have all been pretty lenient so far,’” Cohen said.
The professor said it’s also possible Hodge was having trouble reaching a deal because he’s one of the parents who allegedly double-dipped in the scam for a second child.
“There might be an argument from prosecutors that this is a repeat offender,” Cohen said. “It may well be that they wanted aggravation piled onto the sentencing guidelines, and the defense may have said, ‘Oh no. We’ll argue that with the judge.’”
Hodge signaled his forthcoming guilty plea in a notice to the court filed Thursday.
The notice said he’ll appear at 10 a.m. Monday for a new plea hearing before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton.
“There’s no plea agreement,” a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in Boston told The News.
Hodge is the first parent to change course after initially balking at a guilty plea and then getting slapped with a second money laundering charge on top of the initial conspiracy charges leveled when most of the parents were arrested in March.
Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli are still sticking with their not guilty pleas along with more than a dozen others.