Closing arguments expected in USC coach's bribery trial

The trial of a decorated former water polo coach at the University of Southern California implicated in the sprawling college admissions bribery scandal is wrapping up

Via AP news wire
Thursday 07 April 2022 14:46
College Admissions Bribery
College Admissions Bribery

Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday in Boston federal court in the trial of a decorated former water polo coach at the University of Southern California implicated in the sprawling college admissions bribery scandal.

Jovan Vavic faces fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery charges for his role in the scheme, which involved wealthy parents paying bribes to have their children admitted into elite schools using rigged test scores or bogus athletic accomplishments.

The trial opened in early March and was postponed for a few days after the presiding judge contracted COVID-19.

Prosecutors say the 60-year-old California resident accepted more than $200,000 in bribes to fake athletic credentials and designate college applicants as water polo recruits so they could gain admission into the elite Los Angeles school.

But lawyers for Vavic argue the former coach, who guided USC’s men’s and women’s water polo teams to 16 national championships, never took bribes.

They maintain that some $100,000 was deposited directly into a USC account to benefit the water polo teams while about $120,000 in payments for the private high school tuitions of Vavic’s sons were actually scholarships awarded by a nonprofit run by William Singer, who was considered the mastermind of the bribery scheme.

Vavic, who was fired by USC following his arrest in March 2019, is the only coach of the many implicated in the scheme to challenge his charges in court.

In all, nearly 60 people were charged in the investigation dubbed by authorities as “Operation Varsity Blues.”

Among them were prominent coaches from Yale and other elite schools, and wealthy and famous parents such as “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli.

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