Within the flurry of headlines surrounding the “Varsity Blues” scandal, it may need been simple to miss Donna Heinel.
The 61-year-old Southern California girl was not like dozens of others charged within the nationwide rip-off, not a big-time faculty coach or a rich government, not a well-known tv actress.
However federal prosecutors characterize the previous USC administrator as “one of the most-prolific and culpable participants” in a conspiracy to get unqualified college students accepted to prestigious universities, usually by passing them off as gifted athletes.
On Friday, a Boston decide ordered Heinel to serve six months in jail with two years of supervised launch and pay $160,000 in restitution for working behind the scenes to get college students admitted to USC as “walk-on” recruits, some in sports activities they didn’t even play.
“As the college admissions cases have made clear, it is all too easy for coaches to solicit and accept bribes in exchange for athletic recruitment slots, and it is difficult for universities, and criminal authorities, to detect and prevent such fraud,” a authorities sentencing memorandum acknowledged. “That is all the more true for athletic department administrators like Heinel who serve a gatekeeper function.”
Elite campuses similar to Stanford, Yale, Georgetown and UCLA have been swept up in “Operation Varsity Blues,” a federal investigation whose 53 convictions have concerned not solely coaches, but in addition dozens of prosperous dad and mom.
The scheme’s mastermind, a personal marketing consultant named William “Rick” Singer, was sentenced to a few years and 6 months in jail this week. Singer was capable of work “side door” admissions for the youngsters of his shoppers by cultivating relationships with coaches and directors.
An estimated two dozen of these offers concerned USC.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, dressmaker J. Mossimo Giannulli, served temporary jail sentences after paying Singer $500,000 to have their two daughters portrayed as crew recruits, although neither teenager was a rower. Actress Felicity Huffman pleaded responsible to disguising a $15,000 donation to rig a school entrance examination for her daughter.
A number of USC coaches had been arrested for taking bribes in related instances. Former soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin was sentenced to dwelling confinement and water polo coach Jovan Vavic was convicted however later granted a brand new trial.
Although Heinel initially denied wrongdoing, the college fired her when she was indicted in 2019. After investigators gathered proof of her interactions with Singer, she pleaded responsible to wire fraud in 2021.