Charles Kurpa / AP
Boston (AP) — The first trial of the Operation Varsity Blues college bribery scandal begins this week, highlighting investigators’ tactics and spotlighting the secret school selection process that many have long complained about. There is a possibility of hitting. Support the rich.
The jury selection began Wednesday in federal court in Boston, where two parents (former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz and former Staples and Gap Inc. executive John Wilson) misrepresented their children as athletic recruits at the University of South California. By.
They were among the dozens of prominent parents, athletic coaches, etc. arrested nationwide when the incident exploded to the headline more than two years ago, but they were first tried.
Defense lawyers believe their payments are legitimate donations and are expected to argue that USC treatment of children is routine for deep-pocket parents.
“The government wants to provide unilateral evidence that the school wasn’t okay, granting incentives for donations, and at the same time blocking the defendant’s evidence that the school was actually okay. Seems to be there. Arrangement “.
Prosecutors say the defense is only trying to muddy the water with clear cases of lies and fraud.
Since March 2019, the Wealthy Parents Parade has pleaded guilty to paying large sums of money to help send children to school with incorrect test scores or fake exercise qualifications. The group, which includes television actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and Lori Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannull, has been punished from probation to nine months’ imprisonment. I am.
Prosecutors are now facing the challenge of convincing the jury that two of the few remaining parents who are still fighting are guilty.
Abdelaziz in Las Vegas has been accused of paying $ 300,000 to take her daughter to the USC as a basketball recruit to a fake charity run by admissions consultant Rick Singer, the plan’s mastermind. Prosecutors say Abdelaziz has approved an athletic profile that promoted the girl as a star, even though she didn’t even cut for the high school national team.
Wilson, head of a private-equity firm in Massachusetts, is responsible for paying $ 220,000 to designate his son as a USC waterball recruit and $ 1 million to buy a twin daughter’s path to Harvard and Stanford. I have.
The prosecution says the singer told Wilson that he couldn’t secure a place for both girls on Stanford’s sailing team.
Abdelaziz’s lawyer refused to comment prior to the trial, and Wilson’s lawyer did not respond to the request for comment.
The defense lawyer claimed in court documents that their clients were unaware of any false information submitted about their children. They say the USC cannot be a victim of fraud because the school regularly rewarded donors by giving their children special treatment at the time of admission.
Prosecutors blamed the defense for trying to turn the case into a USC admissions trial, rather than whether parents lied and agreed to defeat the child’s athletic qualifications. The USC said it was unaware of the singer’s plans until it began working with investigators in 2018.
“The USC is not on trial,” the judge told defense at a recent hearing. Judges are allowed to show evidence that parents’ lawyers have admitted other unqualified students donated by their parents only if they knew when the defendant paid the bribe. Said that it would be.
The opening statement is scheduled for Monday. Among the issues that can affect the jury’s selection is the defendant’s wealth.
The defense lawyer was trying to prevent prosecutors from presenting evidence of their income, wealth, spending or lifestyle, saying it was nothing more than “unjustly prejudicing the jury.” ..
However, Judge Nathaniel Gorton of the U.S. District Court said such evidence motivated parents to “enroll their children in elite colleges to maintain or improve their position in the community.” He said there was a possibility.
Singer, an admissions consultant who began working with the FBI in 2018 and recorded a phone call with her parents, has long been expected to plead guilty and become an important witness to the government. However, the prosecution has not yet revealed whether he intends to call him to the stand.
The defense lawyer has confiscated a memo revealed in a court document last year. The alleged investigator told him to lie to get his parents to make a guilty statement... In a note the singer called in 2018, the singer said he had instructed his parents to say that the payment was a bribe.
Agent Denied to put pressure on the singer To lie, putting the singer on the stand can give the defense an opportunity to attack his credibility.
“He may face a statement directly suggesting that he may have been actually pressured by saying certain things,” said Brad Bailey, a former federal prosecutor in Massachusetts. … if the jury believes it, it could have a devastating impact on the prosecution. ” I am not involved in the case.
But at the same time, the current defense counsel, Bailey, admits that the defense “raises more questions that may raise reasonable doubt,” making it even more problematic for prosecutors not to call the singer. Said that it could be.
Wilson is also in another court battle over his portrayal after filing a defamation proceeding against Netflix in April. “Operation Varsity Blues” documentary..
Wilson’s lawyer said the singer tricked him and his son wasn’t a fake athlete, “an invited member of the US Olympic Water Polo Development Program, with more than enough grades and test scores to get admission to USC.” I wrote that I claimed to be. “”
Another parent who was supposed to go to trial with Abdellajiz and Wilson Pleaded guilty last month He didn’t actually play for the team, but decided to pay $ 500,000 to get her son into the USC as a football recruit. Marci Palatella, CEO of a California liquor distribution company, was the 33rd parent to plead guilty in the case.
The other three parents will go to trial in January.
The vast Varsity Bruce case was indicted by Boston Authorities began investigating the plan many years ago thanks to advice from executives. Subject to investigation of securities fraud.
First Trial Begins “Varsity Bruce” College Entrance Exam Scandal: NPR
Source link First Trial Begins “Varsity Bruce” College Entrance Exam Scandal: NPR