College admissions scandal: Two new guilty pleas

Former football coach not only pleaded guilty, but also agreed to testify against accused parents.

USC campus/logo in Los Angeles
Some US celebrities, prominent and wealthy individuals have been exposed in an admissions scandal involving the University of Southern California [Mike Blake/Reuters]

They were the front and back ends of Rick Singer’s crooked college admissions game, and in federal court in Boston on Thursday they pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy and agreed to testify against the parents still fighting the case.

Ali Khosroshahin, who led the women’s soccer program at the University of Southern California from 2007 to 2013, sneaked kids into college as recruited athletes in return for bribes from their wealthy parents — and even referred the bogus athletes to other schools in Singer’s network, according to prosecutors.

Steven Masera, who served as the accountant and financial officer for two businesses Singer operated, admitted to laundering millions of dollars in illicit payments.

Together, they supported a lucrative trade in the disposable income of affluent moms and dads who wanted a lock on an elite college. At the top of it all was college counselor William “Rick” Singer, who has admitted to directing testing prodigy Mark Riddell to take the ACT or SAT in place of the kids, or otherwise fix their scores, at about $10,000 apiece.

And because the competition for seats at many of the colleges Singer promised his customers, including Yale and Stanford, was so fierce, he offered them a lock on admission in return for bribes of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. He and his network of corrupt coaches would fabricate athletic profiles for applicants and usher them through the ivied gates, he admitted.

The Soccer Coach

Khosroshahin and his assistant coach at USC, Laura Janke, were paid more than $350,000 to designate the children of four parents as recruited athletes for the school, prosecutors said. None of the recruits played competitively at USC. Janke has also pleaded guilty.

Khosroshahin will cooperate with the government, which says he and Janke served as a secret channel between Singer and other coaches, including at the University of California at Los Angeles. He faces 46 to 57 months in prison but could get a lesser term if he provides substantial assistance to the U.S.

None of the colleges or applicants in the scandal have been charged.

The Accountant

The accountant, who has also agreed to cooperate, admitted helping to arrange bribes to a college test administrator and Riddell. Masera, who prosecutors say is responsible for laundering $9.5 million to $25 million of payments, faces a prison term of 57 to 71 months and could get a lesser term if he provides substantial assistance.

Of the 50 people charged in the case, 14 parents have admitted guilt while 19 others are fighting charges that include money laundering and conspiracy. Along with Singer, who agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors, the U.S. has charged 16 college coaches and test personnel, seven of whom have pleaded guilty.

The case is U.S. v. Ernst, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Source: Bloomberg