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Another parent charged in college admission bribery scam

June 28, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — A man who authorities say paid $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California as a fake volleyball recruit became the 51st person charged in the sweeping college admissions bribery scheme.

Jeffrey Bizzack, 59, has agreed to plead guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge, federal prosecutors said Friday. He’s the first person to be charged since March, when authorities announced the arrests of dozens of prominent parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the country.

Bizzack’s lawyer said his client “voluntarily came forward to be accountable for his actions and accept responsibility.”

“He deeply regrets what he did, and especially the effect it will have on his son. His son knew nothing of Mr. Bizzack’s actions. Mr. Bizzack will do his best to make up for this mistake and apologizes to USC and its hardworking students,” Attorney Seth Berman said in an email.

Federal prosecutors say they will recommend nine months in prison.

Bizzack, of Solana Beach, California, gave a total of $200,000 to the sham charity run by the admissions consultant at the center of the scheme and sent a $50,000 check to the USC “Galen Center” to have his son designated as a recruit for the volleyball team, authorities said. His son was formally accepted in March 2018.

The consultant, Rick Singer, then made monthly payments of $20,000 to USC’s then-senior associate athletic director, Donna Heinel, for her help getting Bizzack’s son and other children of prominent parents into the school.

Heinel has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Singer began cooperating with investigators last year in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence and helped build the case against the parents. He pleaded guilty in March.

Fourteen parents have pleaded guilty to taking part in the scam, which authorities say involved bribing coaches and rigging standardized test scores.

They include “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, who admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct the answers on her daughter’s SAT.

Parents fighting the charges include “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into USC as fake crew recruits. They haven’t publicly commented on the allegations.

The first person to be sentenced in the case — former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer — avoided prison time . He’s serving two years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

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Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkinricher

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