Parent in college bribery scandal gets year in prison

A former casino executive has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 09 February 2022 22:14
College Admissions Bribery
College Admissions Bribery

A former casino executive was sentenced Wednesday to serve one year and one day in federal prison as part of the stiffest sentence so far handed down in the sprawling college admissions bribery scandal.

Gamal Abdelaziz was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release, 400 hours of community service and pay a fine of $250,000 in the sentence handed down by Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston federal court.

Abdelaziz’s lawyers had argued their client shouldn’t receive a substantially higher sentence just because he was one of the few parents to fight the charges in court.

The 65-year-old Las Vegas resident was convicted of fraud and bribery conspiracy in October after prosecutors said he paid $300,000 to get his daughter into the University of Southern California as a basketball recruit even though she didn’t even make it onto her high school’s varsity team.

Lawyers for Abdelaziz didn't respond to an email seeking comment, but in legal filings ahead of Wednesday's sentencing they sought a four-month prison stint.

Prosecutors, however, had sought 14 months in prison for the former Wynn casino executive, arguing he failed to accept responsibility for his actions.

Dozens of other defendants simply pleaded guilty in the scheme and have already served their time. “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman for example, was sentenced to 14 days in prison. “Full House” star Lori Loughlin was sentenced to two months and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli was sentenced to five months.

Abdelaziz was among nearly 60 people charged in an investigation dubbed by authorities as “Operation Varsity Blues” that also ensnared athletic coaches at Georgetown, Yale and other prestigious schools.

Abdelaziz, who is originally from Egypt, said he believed his payments were legitimate donations and had no idea that Rick Singer, the admissions consultant he'd worked with, was actually using the money as bribes and was falsifying or exaggerating his daughter's athletic credentials.

But prosecutors cited secretly recorded phone calls between Singer and Abdelaziz that they say showed he was in on the scheme.

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