Ex-Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge has been sentenced to nine months in prison over the college admissions scandal, after he paid bribes to get four of his children into universities.
Hodge, 62, who retired as chief executive of Allianz SE’s California-based Pimco in 2016, was sentenced on Friday for his part in the scheme in which privileged parents paid bribes to get their children into US colleges.
His prison term is the longest handed out to date to the 15 defendants who have admitted guilt and been sentenced since the nationwide cheating scandal came to light last March.
One of the most high-profile convictions so far is that of Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman who pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 to falsify her daughters SATs and served 11 days of a two-week sentence at the Federal Correctional institution in Dublin, California.
Prosecutors said Hodge was one of the ‘most culpable’ of the 35 parents charged in the scandal, after he paid bribes to get four children into college and tried and failed to bribe another college to get a fifth child a place.
Unlike 14 other defendants who received prison terms ranging from one day to six months, prosecutors said Hodge and three others who entered guilty pleas in October deserve stiffer sentences.
‘They are repeat players, who engaged in the conspiracy again and again, over years,’ Boston U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a sentencing memo.
Over an 11-year period, Hodge paid bribes totaling $850,000 to get two children into Georgetown University and two into the University of Southern California, all on fake athletic profiles, prosecutors said.
One of his children was put on an athletic recruit list as a top youth tennis player, while another was cited as a co-captain of a national soccer team.
His attempts to offer bribes to get a fifth child into Loyola Marymount University as a basketball recruit failed when Loyola’s basketball coach rejected the application because of poor high school grades, they added.
Hodge had said that college admissions consultant William ‘Rick’ Singer, the man at the center of the scandal, falsely told him his money would go toward university programs and underprivileged student athletes.
He admitted that he failed to pull out of the scheme once he learned of Singer’s deception.
‘For that, I am deeply ashamed and remorseful,’ he wrote in a letter to the judge.
Among his bribes, prosecutors said Hodge paid $150,000 to former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who has pleaded not guilty to racketeering.
Hodge also insisted, contrary to a prosecution claim, that he never involved his children in the scheme.
The prison term imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston was less than the two years prosecutors sought but he was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, a $750,000 fine and 500 hours of community service, a spokeswoman for Lelling said in an email.
Hodge’s lawyers, citing his philanthropy and devotion to his children, had asked the judge to consider splitting incarceration with home detention.
The national scandal first came to light in March when Boston prosecutors announced they were charging at least 50 people in connection with a widespread college entrance scam where parents paid bribes to secure places for their children in US colleges.
The mastermind of the scheme, Rick Singer, admitted that he facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and bribed sports coaches to present his clients’ children as fake athletic recruits.
He pleaded guilty to four charges including racketeering and conspiracy and is cooperating with prosecutors.
The scam was set up as a tax-exempt charity to mask bribes and payoffs and funnel millions of dollars right under the nose of U.S. officials.
Singer registered the Key Worldwide Foundation as a charity in 2013, and over the course of seven years took an estimated $25 million in ‘donations’ from rich parents.
The so-called ‘donations’ were used to help kids cheat on the ACT and SAT college admission tests, with one test setting parents back between $15,000 and $75,000.
Children who had never played sport were put on college athletic recruitment lists by university coaches and college athletic departments in exchange for bribes.
In all, 53 people have been charged so far with participating in Singer’s schemes.
Celebrities caught up in the scandal include Huffman and Full House actress Lori Loughlin.
Loughlin has pleaded not guilty to paying $500,000 to Singer to have her daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli, designated as recruits for USC’s crew team despite neither having ever taken part in the sport.
Prosecutors revealed Wednesday in documents obtained by DailyMail.com that Loughlin, together with her husband Mossimo Giannulli and three other parents will appear in a Boston courtroom in October for their criminal trial.
Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering and bribery and if they do not change to a guilty plea their daughters Bella and Olivia Jade may be called to testify come October.
Two more trials are scheduled in early 2021 and late spring of 2021 for the other 10 parents who pleaded not guilty.
As well as wealthy parents, athletic coaches and test administrators have also been charged in the scandal.