Donna Heinel is among 57 people who were charged in the “OperationVarsity Blues” investigation, which ensnared business executives and celebrities and exposed inequalities in U.S. higher education
A former senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California has agreed to plead guilty to participating in a vast fraud and bribery scheme that allowed wealthy parents’ children to gain admission as fake sports recruits.
Donna Heinel had been slated to face a federal jury in Boston later this month in the second trial to arise from the U.S. college admissions scandal. She instead will plead guilty to honest services wire fraud, prosecutors said on November 4.
Prosecutors alleged she accepted bribes from the California college admissions consultant who masterminded the scheme,William “Rick” Singer, in exchange for designating his clients’ children as athletic recruits.
Her plea deal came after two fathers, former casino executive Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder JohnWilson, were convicted in the first trial in the scandal oftrying to buy their children’s way into USC.
Under her plea deal, Donna Heinel agreed not to appeal any prison sentence of 46 months of less and forfeit $1,60,000.
Her lawyer, Nina Marino, said she “did the honorable thing.”
Donna Heinel is among 57 people who were charged in the “OperationVarsity Blues” investigation, which ensnared business executives and celebrities and exposed inequalities in U.S. higher education.
Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and funneling money from the parents to corrupt coaches and university athletic officials to secure the admission of their children as phony athletes.
Forty-eight people have agreed to plead guilty, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman.
Prosecutors said Singer’s clients from 2014 to 2018 made more than $1.3 million in payments to USC accounts that Donna Heinel designated and professionally benefited from.
Prosecutors said that beginning in 2017, she was also paid $20,000 per month through a sham consulting agreement with Singer. In exchange, Donna Heinel facilitated the admission of morethan two dozen students.