You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Parent Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for College Admissions Scheme

Former senior executive paid more than $1.2 million to secure the admission of his three children to elite universities as purported athletes

BOSTON – A private-equity investor and former senior Staples executive was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for his participation in a conspiracy to use fraud and bribery to secure the admission of his three children to the University of Southern California (USC), Harvard University and Stanford University as purported Division I athletic recruits.

John Wilson, 62, of Lynnfield, Mass., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to 15 months in prison, two years of supervised release, 400 hours of community service and a fine of $200,000. Wilson was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $88,546 to the IRS. On Oct. 8, 2021, Wilson was convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery; three counts of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud; two counts of federal programs bribery; and one count of filing a false tax return.

In 2013, Wilson agreed to pay William “Rick” Singer $220,000 to facilitate his son’s admission to USC as a purported water polo recruit. The scheme involved presenting Wilson’s son to USC’s subcommittee on athletic admissions using a water polo profile that included fabricated credentials, awards and swim times. After Wilson’s son was accepted to USC, Wilson wired $100,000 to Singer’s sham charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), $100,000 to Singer’s company, The Key, and $20,000 directly to Singer. Wilson paid the bribe from the corporate account of his private investment firm and falsely deducted part of it as a business expense and the remainder as a charitable contribution. Additionally, in 2018, Wilson agreed to pay Singer $1.5 million to secure the admission of his twin daughters to Harvard University and Stanford University as purported athletic recruits.

Singer previously pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Case information, including the status of each defendant, is available here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Joleen Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Mark Deckett, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen E. Frank, Leslie A. Wright, Kristen A. Kearney and Ian Stearns of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated February 16, 2022