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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Additional Charges Filed Against Parents in College Admissions Case

BOSTON – A grand jury in the District of Massachusetts has returned additional charges against 11 of the 15 parents charged in the college admissions case.

The new charges in the third superseding indictment allege that 11 defendants – Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Mossimo Giannulli, Elisabeth Kimmell, Lori Loughlin, William McGlashan, Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh, and Robert Zangrillo – conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission. In exchange for the bribes, employees of the university allegedly designated the defendants’ children as athletic recruits – with little or no regard for their athletic abilities – or as members of other favored admissions categories.

In addition to the conspiracy count, one defendant, John Wilson of Lynnfield, Mass., is charged with two counts of substantive federal programs bribery in connection with his efforts to use bribes to secure his children’s admission to Harvard University and Stanford University. As alleged in the indictment, USC, Harvard and Stanford all receive more than $10,000 annually in grants, subsidies or other forms of federal assistance.

Today’s indictment also includes additional charges of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud against four defendants—Joey Chen, William McGlashan, Jr., John Wilson and Robert Zangrillo—in connection with the previously charged scheme to use bribery and other forms of fraud to obtain falsified standardized test scores and admission to elite colleges and universities as purported athletic recruits or members of other favored admissions categories.

The defendants, all of whom were arrested in March 2019, were previously charged with conspiring with William “Rick” Singer and others, to bribe SAT and ACT exam administrators to allow a test taker to secretly take college entrance exams in place of their children, or to correct the children’s answers after they had taken the exams. The defendants were also previously charged with conspiring to launder the bribes and other payments in furtherance of the fraud by funneling them through Singer’s purported charity and his for-profit corporation, as well as by transferring money into the United States, from outside the United States, for the purpose of promoting the fraud scheme.

Arraignment dates have not yet been scheduled. Case information, including the status of each defendant, charging documents and plea agreements are available here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.

The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering. The charge of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of federal programs bribery provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. The Department of Education, Office of Inspector General provided assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright and Kristen A. Kearney of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated October 22, 2019