Wealthy California couple receive prison terms in college admissions scandal




  • In US
  • 2020-11-17 21:22:10Z
  • By Reuters

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) - A wealthy California couple were sentenced to prison time on Tuesday after admitting they paid $250,000 to fraudulently help their daughter gain admission to the University of Southern California as a volleyball recruit.

Diane Blake, the co-founder of a retail merchandising company, and Todd Blake, an entrepreneur and investor, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston to six weeks and to four months in prison, respectively.

They are among 57 people charged in relation to a vast scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to fraudulently secure spots for their children at universities.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of students to selective universities as fake athletic recruits.

The parents include "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman, who received a 14-day prison sentence, and "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, who was sentenced to two months in prison.

During a virtual hearing, Gorton also ordered the Blakes to each pay a $125,000 fine. The judge, who has sentenced eight other parents, said the case "boggles the mind."

"I remain unable to understand the misguided and warped thinking that resulted in the commission of this crime," he said.

Diane Blake, 55, co-founded Winston Retail Solutions, whose clients included Nike Inc and Under Armour Inc, according to court records. Todd Blake, 55, worked from home as an investor.

Prosecutors said the Ross, California, residents agreed in 2017 to pay $50,000 in "donations" to a USC athletic fund and $200,000 to Singer's non-profit to secure an illicit guarantee of admission for their daughter.

The donations went to an account controlled by a USC official that prosecutors said accepted bribes to help the children of Singer's clients gain admission as athletic recruits.


(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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