Oct 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Two parents found guilty in college admissions cheating case

Gamal Abdelaziz makes his way into court for opening statements in the first Varsity Blues case in Boston on Sept. 13. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Two parents were found guilty in U.S. district court on Friday for their participation in what federal prosecutors have called the biggest college admissions scam in U.S. history, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: John Wilson, a private equity firm founder, and Gamal Abdelaziz, a former casino executive, were the first to go on trial in the "Operation Varsity Blues" scandal — in which parents allegedly bribed coaches and paid for forged standardized tests to get their children into elite colleges.

Driving the news: Abdelaziz and Wilson, who were convicted on charges of conspiring to commit bribery and fraud, face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious charges, per the Times.

  • However, Ilene Jaroslaw, chair of the white collar criminal defense practice at the Phillips Nizer law firm, said she did not expect the judge to keep sentence either defendant to more than five years, the Times notes.
  • Abdelaziz was accused of paying $300,000 in 2018 to have his daughter admitted to the University of Southern California as a top basketball recruit. Abdelaziz's daughter did not make the varsity team in high school.
  • Wilson was accused of paying $220,000 in 2014 to have his son admitted as a water polo recruit at USC.

The big picture: 57 people, including parents, coaches, standardized test administrators and others, have been charged in connection with the college admission scandal, Reuters reports.

  • The scandal has implicated athletic coaches from colleges including USC, Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest and Georgetown.
  • Of the 57 defendants who were indicted in March 2019, approximately 48 have pleaded guilty or have agreed to do so, per the Times.

What to watch: A small number of parents are set to go on trial in 2021.

Go deeper: Timeline of the major developments in the college admissions scandal

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