UPDATED 8:06 AM PT – Sunday, October 10, 2021
A guilty verdict was reached in the trial of two parents charged with bribing their kids’ way into elite college universities as fake athletic recruits. On Friday, a Boston federal court convicted private equity firm founder John Wilson and former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, among other charges.
“They and their families enjoy privileges and opportunities that most of us can only imagine,” said Nathaniel Mendell, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “Yet, they were willing to break the law and the jury has now found that they did break the law in order to guarantee an admission spot for their children in the school of their choosing.”
Wilson was accused of paying $220,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California as a phony water polo recruit, later paying $1 million to get his twin daughters into Harvard and Stanford.
Meanwhile, Abdelaziz allegedly paid $300,000 to bribe his daughters way into USC as a basketball recruit. Lawyers argued the two fathers believed the payments were legitimate donations, centering the blame on California college admissions consultant and scheme mastermind Rick Singer.
“Look, on behalf of Mr. Abdelaziz, it’s obviously not the result he was looking for, but that’s our system and that’s why they have appellate courts. So, that’s what we’ll be doing next,” said Abdelaziz’ attorney, Brian Kelly.
The pair were the first among 60 defendants to stand trial for the scandal in what authorities have dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.”
“What they did was an affront to hardworking students and parents. But the verdict today proves that even these defendants, powerful and privileged people are not above the law,” said Mendell. “They broke the law and now they face the consequences.”
The two parents are due for sentencing in February, where the most serious charges could see hefty jail time of up to 20 years.