Felicity Huffman is just the beginning: Who's pleaded guilty in the college admissions scandal — and who's still fighting

USA Today 3 weeks ago

BOSTON — It's the largest college admissions scandal in the history of the United States, and the blockbuster has played out in a federal courthouse in Boston. 

The Justice Department began its sweeping case, dubbed "Varsity Blues," with guilty pleas in March from a handful of defendants led by the scheme's mastermind Rick Singer. He admitted to funneling portions of $25 million in bribes from rich parents to coaches, test-cheaters and others to get their children into some of the nation's top universities.

More pleas followed. They include wealthy parents such as actress Felicity Huffman, CEOs, a wine vineyards owner, a prominent attorney, as well as college coaches. Huffman, the first to be sentenced in the case, is headed to prison for two weeks. 

In all, 23 out of 52 total defendants in the nationwide case have waived their rights to a trial to plead guilty to crimes in deals with prosecutors. Most are set to be sentenced this fall. Another 28 defendants, including actress Lori Loughlin, have pleaded not guilty are digging in for a legal battle.  

The tally of guilty pleas includes parents, like Huffman, who paid Singer to have someone cheat on their children's ACT or SAT test and others who paid larger amounts to have their children classified as athletic recruits. Also pleading guilty: Mark Riddell, the man who took the tests for the applicants, and coaches who agreed to classify students as athletes to open a "back door" into their schools. 

Here's an up-to-date tracker of who's pleaded guilty and not guilty in the scandal. 

GUILTY PLEAS

In order of the date of their guilty plea:

1. Rick Singer, CEO of The Worldwide Foundation

His admitted actions: Singer, the scheme's mastermind, allegedly took $25 million in bribes from wealthy parents from 2011 to 2018 through his college counseling nonprofit The Key Worldwide Foundation based in Newport Beach, California. Prosecutors say he funneled that money to co-conspirators to either facilitate cheating on exams or falsely classify applicants as college recruits.

Charges: Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy; money laundering conspiracy; conspiracy to defraud U.S.; and obstruction of justice; and a forfeiture of $3.4 million and other assets

Date of guilty plea: March 12

Sentencing date: June 19

2. John Vandemoer, former sailing coach at Stanford University

Admitted actions: Vandemoer accepted checks totaling $270,000 from Singer into Stanford's sailing program to classify two applicants on to the sailing team to facilitate their admissions. 

Charges: Vandemoer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Guilty plea date: March 12, 2019

Sentencing: Vandemoer on June 12, 2019 was sentenced to two years of supervised release, a $10,000 fine and one day of prison deemed already served. Prosecutors had sought 13 months of prison.

3. Rudy Meredith, former women's soccer coach at Yale University

Admitted actions: Meredith agreed to take solicitations totaling $850,000 from Singer to designate two applicants as soccer recruits. It was the FBI's tip about Meredith that opened up the larger scheme.

Charges: Meredith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud and honest services wire fraud.

Guilty plea date: March 28, 2019

Sentencing date: June 20, 2019

4. Mark Riddell, former private school counselor in Florida and the test-taker

Admitted actions: On at least 25 occasions, Riddell took bribe money to either secretly take SAT or ACT exams for highs school students or change their answers. Riddell took bribes of usually $10,000 from rich parents to fly to cities such as Vancouver, Houston and Los Angeles to carry out the cheating.

Charges: Riddell has pleaded guilty to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Guilty plea date: April 12, 2019

Sentencing date: July 18, 2019; prosecutors have recommended 33 to 41 months of prison

5. Michael Center, former tennis coach at the University of Texas

Admitted actions: Center accepted $100,0000 in bribes to falsely designate a college applicant who did not play tennis as a tennis recruit. 

Charges: Center has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Center also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. 

Guilty plea date: April 24, 2019

Sentencing date: October 30, 2019; prosecutors have recommended 15 to 21 months of prison time

6. Bruce Isackson, head of Bay-area real estate firm WP Investments

Admitted actions: Isackson, of Hillsborough, California, and his wife Davina Isackson paid more than $600,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California as purported athletics recruits.

Charges: Bruce Isackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud; money laundering conspiracy; and tax fraud

Guilty plea date: May 1, 2019

Sentencing date: July 31, 2019; prosecutors have recommended 37 to 46 months of prison time

7. Davina Isackson

Admitted actions: Together with husband Bruce Isackson, Davina Isackson paid more than $600,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California as purported athletics recruits.

Charges: Davina Isackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Guilty plea date: May 1, 2019

Sentencing date: July 31, 2019; prosecutors have recommended 27 and 33 months of prison time

8. Stephen Semprevivo, former executive at Cydcor in Los Angeles

Admitted actions: Prosecutors say Semprevivo wrote a $400,000 check from his family trust to a sham nonprofit operated by Singer in April 2016 after his son was admitted into Georgetown. 

Charges: Semprevivo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Guilty plea date: May 7

Sentencing date: September 11, 2019 

9. Felicity Huffman, actress

Admitted actions: The former "Desperate Housewives" star admitted to paying $15,000 to have Riddell correct SAT answers for her oldest daughter.

Charges: Huffman has pleaded guilty conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. 

Guilty plea date: May 13

Sentence: Huffman was sentenced Sept. 13, 2019 to 14 days in prison, a $30,000 fine, supervised release for one year and 250 hours of community service. She's been ordered to report to prison Oct. 25. 

10. Devin Sloane, CEO of a water systems company in Los Angeles

Admitted actions: Sloane admitted to paying $250,000 in bribes to Singer to falsely designate his son as a water polo player so he could gain acceptance to the University of Southern California

Charges: Sloane has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Guilty plea date: May 13, 2019

Sentencing date: September 10, 2019

11. Laura Janke, former assistant women's soccer coach at USC

Admitted actions: Janke admitted to creating fake sports profiles for the children of wealthy parents, including actress Lori Loughlin's daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, in exchange for bribes. She participated in the scheme while at USC and after her 2014 departure. 

Charges: Janke has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering  .  

Guilty plea date: May 14, 2019

Sentencing date: October 17, 2019; prosecutors have recommended 27 to 33 months of prison time and a forfeiture of $143,000

12. Gordon Caplan, attorney from Greenwich, Connecticut/New York

Admitted actions: Caplan admitted to in December 2018 making a contribution of $75,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation in exchange for Riddell correcting the answers on his daughter's ACT exam.

Charges: Caplan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Plea hearing date: May 21, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct 3; prosecutors have recommended Caplan serve between eight and 14 months in prison

13. Agustin Huneeus Jr., Napa vineyards owner from San Francisco 

Admitted actions: Huneeus admitted to paying $50,000 to Singer's Key Worldwide Foundation in exchange for Riddell to correct his daughter's SAT exam after she turned it in. Later, he agreed to pay Singer $250,000 to take part in the college recruitment scheme by conspiring to have her daughter designated as a water polo recruit at USC. He made an initial payment of $50,000 toward that effort. 

Charges: Huneeus pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Plea hearing date: May 21, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 4; prosecutors have recommended Huneeus serve 15 months prison

14. Marcia Abbott, of New York

Admitted actions: Abbott, married to co-defendant Gregory Abbott from New York and Aspen, Colorado, admitted to paying bribes of $50,000 and $75,000 for Singer to arrange Riddell to correct the answers of their daughter's ACT and SAT subject exams.

Charges: Abbott pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Plea hearing date: May 22, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 8; prosecutors have recommended Abbott serve one year plus an additional day in prison

15. Gregory Abbott, founder and CEO of International Dispensing Corp.

Admitted actions: Like his wife, Abbott admitted to paying bribes of $50,000 and $75,000 for Singer to arrange Riddell to correct the answers of their daughter's ACT and SAT subject exams.

Charges: Abbott pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Plea hearing date: May 22, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 8; prosecutors have recommended Abbott serve one year plus an additional day in prison

16. Peter Jan Sartorio, packaged food entrepreneur     

Admitted actions: Sartorio, a packaged food entrepreneur from Menlo Park, California, admitted to paying Singer's Key Worldwide Foundation $15,000 to have Riddell cheat on his daughter's SAT exam. Sartorio is the founder and president of P.J.'s Organics, which specializes in frozen burritos.

Charges: Sartorio pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Plea hearing date: May 22, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 11; prosecutors have recommended Sartorio serve 0 to six months in prison. 

17. Jane Buckingham, CEO of boutique marketing firm in Los Angeles 

Admitted actions: Buckingham admitted to agreeing in June 2018 to pay Singer's Key Worldwide Foundation $50,000 for Riddell taking the ACT exam for her son.

Charges: Buckingham pleaded guilty conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. 

Plea hearing date: May 24, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 23, 2019

18. Robert Flaxman, president and CEO of Crown Realty and Development

Admitted actions: Flaxman, of Beverly Hills, California, admitted to paying $75,000 to Singer's Key Worldwide Foundation in 2016 toward cheating on the ACT exam.

Charges: Flaxman pleaded guilty conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. 

Plea hearing date: May 24, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 18, 2019

19. Marjorie Klapper, owner of a jewelry business

Admitted actions: Klapper, of Menlo Park, California, admitted to paying $15,000 to Singer's Key Worldwide Foundation to have Riddell to correct answers on her son's ACT exam.

Charges: Klapper pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. 

Plea hearing date: May 24, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 16, 2019

20. Toby MacFarlane, title insurance senior executive

Admitted actions: MacFarlane, of Del Mar, California, is accused of paying at least $400,000 to get to Singer's organization to get his daughter and later his son into USC as purported athletic recruits. 

Charges: MacFarlane has agreed to plead guilty conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. 

Plea hearing date: June 21, 2019

Sentencing date: Nov. 13, 2019

21. Steven Masera, accountant for the Key Worldwide Foundation

Admitted actions: Masera, of Folsom, California, is accused of overseeing many of the transactions on Singer's behalf, sending notices to parents for their purported "donation "or "pledge" to the Key Worldwide Foundation, among other things.  

Charges: Masera pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering and to cooperate with investigators. Prosecutors have recommended Masera receive a prison sentence between 47 and 71 months. 

Plea hearing date: June 27, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 22, 2019

22. Ali Khosroshahin, USC women's soccer coach from 2007 to 2013

Admitted actions: Khosroshahin and former assistant coach Laura Janke are accused of falsely designating four recruits as soccer players in exchange for $350,000 in bribes that the children's parents paid to Singer.

Charges: Khosroshahin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering and to cooperate with prosecutors. The U.S. Attorney's Office has recommended between 46 and 57 months of prison time.

Plea hearing date: June 27

Sentencing date: Oct. 25

23. Jeffrey Bizzack, tech executive

Admitted actions: Bizzack has admitted to paying $250,000 for his son to be admitted to USC as a fake volleyball recruit – $200,000 went to Singer and $50,000 to USC's Galen Center.

Charges: Bizzack, the co-founder of the clothing retailer Outerknown and former president of ServiceSource, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. He's also agreed to cooperate with federal investigators. 

Plea hearing date: July 24, 2019

Sentencing date: Oct. 30, 2019

Not guilty pleas

Coaches, test administrators and Singer associates — each charged with racketeering conspiracy: 

1. Igor Dvorskiy, of Sherman Oaks, California, director of a private elementary and high school in Los Angeles and a test administrator for the College Board and ACT

2. Gordon Ernst, of Chevy Chase, Md., former head coach of men and women’s tennis at Georgetown University

3. William Ferguson, of Winston-Salem, N.C., former women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest University

4. Martin Fox, of Houston, Texas, president of a private tennis academy in Houston

5. Donna Heinel, of Long Beach, California, the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California

6. Jorge Salcedo, of Los Angeles, California, former head coach of men’s soccer at the University of California at Los Angeles

7. Mikaela Sanford, of Folsom, California, employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation

8. Jovan Vavic, of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, former water polo coach at the University of Southern California

9. Niki Williams, of Houston, assistant teacher at a Houston high school and test administrator for the College Board and ACT

Parents charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud; some also charged with money laundering:

10. Gamal Abdelaziz, of Las Vegas, the former senior executive of a resort and casino operator in Macau, China

11. Diane Blake, of San Francisco,, an executive at a retail merchandising firm;

12 Todd Blake, of San Francisco, an entrepreneur and investor 

13. I-Hin “Joey” Chen, of Newport Beach, California, operates a provider of warehousing and related services for the shipping industry

14. Amy Colburn, of Palo Alto, California

15. Gregory Colburn, of Palo Alto, California 

16. Mossimo Giannulli, of Los Angeles, fashion designer married to Lori Loughlin

17. Elizabeth Henriquez, of Atherton, California

18. Manuel Henriquez, of Atherton, California, founder, chairman and CEO of a publicly traded specialty finance company

19. Douglas Hodge, of Laguna Beach, California, former CEO of investment management company

20. Michelle Janavs, of Newport Coast, California, former executive of a large food manufacturer

21. Elisabeth Kimmel, of Las Vegas, owner and president of a media company

22. Lori Loughlin, of Los Angeles, actress

23. William McGlashan Jr., of Mill Valley, California, senior executive at a global equity firm

24. Marci Palatella, of Healdsburg, California, CEO of a liquor distribution company

25. John Wilson, of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, founder and CEO of private equity and real estate development firm

26. Homayoun Zadeh, of Calabasas, California, an associate professor of dentistry

27. Robert Zangrillo of Miami, founder and CEO of private investment firm

28. David Sidoo, of Vancouver, Canadian businessman 

Also charged

Xiaoning Sui, a Chinese national from Surrey, British, Columbia, Canada, was charged Sept. 18 with allegedly paying $400,000 to get her son admitted into UCLA as a soccer recruit. She was arrested in Spain and has not appeared in court yet.


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