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College admissions scandal: Abdelaziz and Wilson are first parents to be found guilty

By Elizabeth Joseph, CNN

A federal jury on Friday found two wealthy parents charged in a national conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college admissions for their children guilty on all counts, the US Attorney’s Office announced.

Gamal Abdelaziz, 64, and John Wilson, 62, are the first parents in the scheme to be convicted by a federal jury, Liz McCarthy, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office – District of Massachusetts, confirmed to CNN.

“The defendants in the case decided today were powerful and successful men. They and their families enjoyed privileges and opportunities that most of us can only imagine, yet they were willing to break the law — and the jury has now found that they did break the law — in order to guarantee an admission spot for their children in the school of their choosing,” Nathaniel R. Mendell, Acting US Attorney, said.

In 2017 Abdelaziz agreed to pay William Rick Singer, the figure at the center of the scheme, $300,000 for the facilitation of his daughter’s admission to the University of Southern California as a purported basketball recruit, court documents detail. Based on her falsified athletic credentials, the USC subcommittee for athletic admissions approved to admit her to USC as a basketball recruit.

Four years earlier, Wilson agreed to pay $220,000 to facilitate his son’s admission to the same university as s purported water polo recruit, and in 2018 he “agreed to pay Singer an amount, ultimately totaling $1.5 million, to facilitate his twin daughters’ admissions to Stanford and Harvard as purported athletic recruits,” court documents say.

Wilson was charged with “conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery; wire fraud and honest services wire fraud — aiding and abetting; federal programs bribery — aiding and abetting; filing a false tax return,” according to US Attorney’s Office records.

Abdelaziz was charged with “conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.”

“What they did was an affront to hard working students and parents, but the verdict today proves that even these defendants — powerful and privileged people — are not above the law. They broke the law, and now they face the consequences,” Mendell added.

CNN has reached out to attorneys representing Wilson and Abdelaziz.

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Mallika Kallingal contributed to this report

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