A Chinese woman who lives in Canada was sentenced Tuesday for bribing a fixer to get her son admitted to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) as a soccer recruit.
Xiaoning Sui, 48, of Surrey, British Columbia, was sentenced to five months' time served during a videoconference hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock.
She was ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 in addition to forfeiting the $400,000 she paid to admissions counselor William "Rick" Singer of California to gain her son entry to UCLA, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Sui is among dozens of rich and famous parents who are accused of buying their children entrance to some of the best universities in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Justice conducted a multilevel, yearslong investigation they dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.
Reports: Millions Paid for Chinese Admissions to US Schools The family of a Chinese student paid $6.5 million to a consultant to ensure her admission to Stanford University in California in 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times. The family of Yusi "Molly" Zhao, who was admitted to Stanford's sailing program in 2017, paid to get their daughter into the highly selective school, the paper reported. Prosecutors: College Scam Takes Cheating to Whole New Level Parents Spend Up to Millions to Boost Student Profiles
Sui was arrested in Spain, Sept. 16, 2019, and detained in prison there until she was extradited to Boston, Massachusetts, for the plea hearing. She pleaded guilty in February to one count of federal programs bribery.
Singer and Sui admitted to agreeing in a phone call in August 2018 that she would pay him $400,000 in exchange for him writing her son's application in a "special way," the Justice Department stated in a release.
Singer told Sui he would pay a UCLA coach in exchange for a letter of intent for Sui's son to play soccer. The letter of intent gained Sui's son admission to UCLA, as well as a scholarship.
Sui wired the $100,000 to a bank account in the U.S. northeast state of Massachusetts in the name of Singer's sham charitable organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), according to the Justice Department release. Jorge Salcedo, then head coach of men's soccer at UCLA, designated Sui's son as a recruited soccer player, which also resulted in his receipt of a scholarship.
Salcedo agreed to plead guilty but has not had a hearing. Singer has pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities.
Earlier in May, a federal judge refused to dismiss charges against actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and other prominent parents accused of cheating the college admissions process, the Associated Press reported.
The judge sided with prosecutors who denied that investigators had fabricated evidence. Defense attorneys had urged the judge to throw out the indictment over allegations of misconduct by FBI agents. Loughlin and Giannulli are scheduled to go to trial in October on charges that they paid $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower.
Last year, actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty in federal court to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter's answers on the college admissions exam, known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT. Huffman served 11 days of a two-week sentence for her role in the scam.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.