Athletic Official Pleads Guilty To Bribery Scheme At California University

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A former senior athletic director at the University of Southern California (USC) pleaded guilty to participating in a bribery scheme which allowed wealthy children to get into college as fake athletes.

Donna Heinel admitted that she gave information to a USC admissions committee and the leader of the scheme, William “Rick” Singer. The committee was misled into believing the students applications came from coaches, Reuters reported.

Heinel had been set to go before a federal jury in Boston later in November, but instead chose to plead guilty to committing honest services wire fraud, the outlet reported.

Heinel manipulated the applications from 2015-2019, in exchange for payments from Singer’s clients to USC accounts, which Heniel benefited from, according to Reuters.

Heinel is one of 57 people being charged in “Operation Varsity Blues.” The operation exposed business executives and celebrities manipulating the college admissions process and having an unfair advantage, the outlet reported.

Singer had pleaded guilty in 2019 for helping students cheat on college entrance exams. He also organized bribes for coaches and other officials, the outlet reported.

Heinel pled guilty after two fathers, former casino executive Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder John Wilson were convicted of bribing their children into USC, the outlet reported.

Forty-eight parents and administrators have entered into guilty pleas, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, the outlet reported.  (RELATED: Official Trailer Drops For Netflix Documentary About College Admission Scandal.)

Prosecutors in the case are alleging that clients of Singer made more then $1.3 million in payments to USC, the outlet reported.

Heinel will serve 46 months or less, and will be sentenced March 11, CBS LA reported.