First trial in U.S. college admission scandal to begin - Reuters

Former Wynn Resorts executive Gamal Abdelaziz, also known as Gamal Aziz, arrives at federal court for the first day of jury selection in the first trial to result from the U.S. college admissions scandal in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., September 8, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder


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BOSTON, September 13 (Reuters) – Two highly-placed business executives were scheduled to stand trial Monday in the "Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. They are accused of paying bribes to their children to gain admission to an elite U.S. University.

Gamal Aziz (64), a former casino executive, and John Wilson, 62 a founder of private equity firm, are charged with conspiring to assist William "Rick", Singer, a California college admissions consultant. Singer previously pleaded guilty to the scheme.

Prosecutors claim that the fathers conspired to defraud their children by securing spots at the University of Southern California for them as fake athletes recruits, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments.

Both men denied wrongdoing and said they believed that the money was meant for donations to universities, not bribes.

Opening statements will be heard by a federal jury in Boston Monday. The trial is expected to last approximately four weeks. The judge set two collective trials for parents who have pleaded not guilty. Wilson and Aziz were the first to stand trial, while Wilson and the other defendants will be on trial in January.

Wilson and Aziz were arrested along with numerous business executives, celebrities and others two and a half years ago. The scandal exposed the lengths wealthy parents would go to attain spots for their children at top schools and inequalities in higher education.

Andrew Lelling, the former top federal prosecutions in Massachusetts, stated that "it says a lot about how people in the country deal with colleges admissions," and that he was the one who brought the case.

Since 2019, the probe has led to the arrest of 57 people, including Felicity Hufman and Lori Loughlin. They were among 46 people, which included 32 wealthy parents, who pleaded guilty.

Aziz is the former president of Wynn Resorts Ltd's (WYNN.O) Macau subsidiary, and Wilson is a former Gap Inc and Staples Inc executive who founded Hyannis Port Capital.

Prosecutors allege Singer, through The Key, his college counseling business, offered legitimate services to parents who were concerned about their children’s college prospects. However, he also made illegal "side doors" to ensure that they got in.

Singer has not been sentenced after pleading guilty in 2019 for facilitating cheating at college entrance exams and using corruption to secure admission to colleges as fake athletic recruits.

While Singer became a star government cooperating witness, prosecutors on Friday said they do not expect to call him to testify. Read on

Prosecutors claim Aziz, a bribery victim, agreed to pay $300,000.00 to secure his daughter's enrollment at USC as a basketball recruit.

Prosecutors allege Wilson spent $220,000 on a false USC water polo recruit designation for his son in 2014. Wilson later attempted to purchase $1.5 million fraudulently to secure spots at Stanford and Harvard for his two daughters.

Reporting from Nate Raymond in Boston. Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Nate Raymond

Nate Raymond reports about federal litigation and the judiciary. He can be reached at