The bookkeeper who worked for the mastermind of a nationwide college admissions cheating and recruiting scheme and a former head women’s soccer coach at the University of Southern California who pocketed more than $200,000 in bribes both pleaded guilty to racketeering charges Thursday.
Steve Masera, the former accountant of the sham nonprofit and college consulting company operated by Rick Singer, and Ali Khosroshahin, who coached USC women’s soccer from 2007 to 2013, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering during back-to-back court hearings in Boston federal court.
It means that 22 out of 50 defendants charged – wealthy parents, coaches and other co-conspirators – have now pleaded guilty and waived their rights to trials in the sweeping college admissions scandal. The other 28 defendants are still fighting charges.
“At the request of Rick Singer, yes ma’am, I sent every one of those checks,” Masera told the judge.
He admitted to sending invoices and receipts to parents, and checks totaling $21 million to college coaches, on Singer’s behalf between 2011 and 2017.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani accepted separate plea agreements reached in recent weeks between prosecutors and both men. The agreements take into account their cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
They are obligated to furnish investigators with all documents, objects and other evidence in their possession as the Justice Department’s investigation continues.
Prosecutors say Singer and his nonprofit took in more than $25 million in payments from rich parents since 2011 to help get their children into some of the nation’s elite colleges. He either funneled portions of the money to test proctors and others to facilitate cheating on the ACT or SAT or to coaches like Khosroshahin to get the children into college as falsified athletic recruits.
It was Masera, according to prosecutors, who oversaw the transactions on Singer’s behalf, sending notices to parents for their purported “donation “or “pledge” to the Key Worldwide Foundation or checks to coaches for their participation. Masera left Singer’s company and nonprofit in 2017.
Khosroshahin, who led USC to one national championship during his tenure, admitted to falsely designating four recruits as soccer players while he was coach. Singer directed payments totaling $350,000 into a private soccer club controlled by Khosroshahin and former assistant women’s USC soccer coach Laura Janke. They then split the payments.
None of the four applicants tagged as competitive athletic recruits actually played soccer. Khosroshahin continued to work with Singer after he left USC by connecting him to more college coaches at other universities in exchange for additional payments totaling $75,000.
“Guilty,” Khosroshahin said when asked how he wished to plead.
He’s the second former USC coach to plead guilty to charges in the “Varsity Blues” scandal, joining Janke, who worked together with Khosroshahin to accept recruits with falsified profiles. Former USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic have both pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Joey Garrison