A Boston court on Friday found two wealthy parents guilty of buying their kids’ ways into colleges in the “Operation Varsity Blues” scandal.
Former casino chief Gamal Abdelaziz and former Staples Inc. executive John Wilson were the first defendants among five dozen standing trial in the high-profile college admissions scam.
Abdelaziz is accused of paying $300,000 to have his daughter enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) as a basketball recruit, even though she was not a member of her high school sports team. Wilson paid $220,000 to have his son enrolled at USC and another $1 million to get his daughters into Harvard and Stanford.
‘Privileged People Are Not Above the Law’
While the two defendants argued that their payments to admissions counselor Rick Singer were legitimate donations, the jury ruled that the scam “was an affront to hardworking students and parents” and the donations would be counted as bribes offered to elite schools.
The jury heard audio recordings of phone calls between Singer and the two men. In one of the clips, Singer was heard saying, “I’m not going to tell the IRS that your $300,000 was paid to Donna Heinel at USC to get Sabrina into school even though she wasn’t a legitimate basketball player at that level.” Sabrina is Abdelaziz’s daughter.
In another clip, Wilson asked Singer which sport would “suit” his daughters. “Is there a two-for-one special? If you got twins?,” Wilson can be heard…