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California couple to admit they paid $250,000 to get daughter into USC

Patricia Hurtado, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Two more parents swept up in the college admissions scandal are changing their pleas to guilty as trials loom in the biggest such prosecution the U.S. has undertaken.

Diane Blake and her husband, Todd Blake, have agreed to admit they conspired to pay $250,000 to get their daughter into the University of Southern California as a purported volleyball player, prosecutors announced Friday. They will be the 27th and 28th parents to plead guilty in the sprawling case.

The couple, from the San Francisco Bay Area town of Ross, will each plead guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge. Todd Blake will also plead guilty to money-laundering conspiracy.

Under the terms of Diane Blake's plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of six weeks in prison; under Todd Blake's deal, four months behind bars. The U.S. will propose a $125,000 fine and two years of supervised release and community service for each. The Blakes will enter their pleas by videoconference Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston.

Diane Blake, 55, is described in the original criminal complaint as an executive at a retail merchandising firm; her husband, 54, as an entrepreneur and investor.

More than 50 people have been charged in the case, which shook moneyed enclaves from Hollywood to Wall Street when it was announced last year. Of the 38 parents, 28 have now admitted guilt. They paid the scheme's admitted mastermind, college admissions strategist William "Rick" Singer, to fix their children's entrance exam scores, funnel bribes to crooked athletic coaches to get the kids on recruiting lists, or both, according to prosecutors.

 

Their sentences have ranged from two weeks for "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman to nine months, plus a $750,000 fine, for former Pimco chief Douglas Hodge. None of the students or colleges caught up in the scandal have been charged.

The 10 parents left fighting the charges face trial before Gorton in two groups. The first trial -- which was to include "Full House" star Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, before they pleaded guilty in May -- is scheduled to start in October, subject to the court's reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. The second, beginning in January, includes private equity executive Bill McGlashan.

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