A father accused of using fraud and bribery to get his daughter to the University of Southern California as a fake athlete has summoned the school for information about the admission process.
Miami financier and developer Robert Zangrillo wants to point the finger at the school by showing that the admissions are influenced by donations and the wealth of the applicant, the LA Times reported.
Zangrillo has argued not guilty of allegations of fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, but prosecutors say he has paid $ 200,000 to William & # 39; Rick & # 39; Singer and $ 50,000 in an account managed by a USC administrator to get his daughter Amber in USC.
In the June 21 filing, Zangrillo's lawyers demanded a large amount of data on how the private university marks some applicants as & # 39; VIP & # 39; or & # 39; special interest & # 39 ;, and the percentage of applicants that were admitted within a year after their family donated $ 50,000 or more.
Prominent Miami financier Robert Zangrillo (left) summoned USC for information about the admission process. He has been accused of using fraud and bribery to get his daughter Amber (right) into school
Zangrillo, pictured with his daughter Amber, wants to point the finger at USC by showing that the recordings are influenced by donations and the wealth of the applicant
USC (photo) has asked a judge to set aside Zangrillo's summons, which requires records regarding how the private university marks some applicants as & # 39; VIP & # 39; or & # 39; special interest & # 39;
It also requires information about the involvement of the university president, a database of donors, and emails and text messages exchanged between university officials regarding the admission of the daughter of Zangrillo.
If there is evidence to support the idea that USC officials are aware that parents are using their wealth to allow their children to be admitted, this may support a defense that USC was not a victim of fraud in the Zangrillo case.
The data & # 39; can show that my client's behavior was in good faith and consistent with legitimate practices applied by universities for decades & # 39 ;, said Martin Weinberg, a Boston lawyer who represents Zangrillo.
USC called the summons of Zangrillo & # 39; an inadmissible fish expedition & # 39; and asked a judge to throw it away, referring to student privacy issues.
The university received the request on July 11 and took a copy of the document, sealed, in its claim to have it destroyed.
Zangrillo is accused of paying Singer to falsify his daughter's request.
He is one of 19 parents who sue against a large number of bribery schemes at American elite colleges.
Singer, the leader of Operation Varsity Blues admission training, advised several wealthy white families to lie about their child's race and falsely claim to be racial minorities to increase their chances of higher education.
Amber (seen on an Instagram photo with her father) was admitted to USC last year after briber Mastermind Rick Singer pretended to be a rower and forged her numbers, prosecutors say
Rick Singer, the leader of the bribery plan, pleaded guilty of four crimes in March and worked with federal prosecutors in Massachusetts who discovered his scam
He also misrepresented customers as recruited athletes.
Amber Zangrillo & # 39; s application to USC as a transfer student last year said she rowed an average of 44 hours a week, 15 weeks a year, according to a complaint that her father accused of fraud conspiring.
But prosecutors say they had never rowed competitively.
Singer also allegedly falsified the young woman's grades, forcing one of his employees to retake online courses for her, including an art history course in which she had received an F.
Singer pleaded guilty to four crimes in March and worked with federal prosecutors in Massachusetts who discovered his scam.
He helped more of the children of his clients in USC than at any other school, and of the 34 parents who were indicted by the American lawyer in Massachusetts for fraud and money laundering, have 19 children who have been to USC or are still enrolled .
Prosecutors say that a USC administrator was also involved in sending Amber Zangrillo to the school, which she was hired in last June after being rejected a year earlier.
Donna Heinel has been accused of conspiring and dismissed from her position as a third official in the USC athletics department.
She pleaded not guilty.
Donna Heinel has been accused of racketeering conspiracy and dismissed from her position as the third rank in the USC athletics department for her alleged involvement in sending Amber Zangrillo to the school
The LA Times reported that Amber Zangrillo has not been charged with a crime and is currently registered with USC.
But the Press Herald reported that prosecutors say they were aware of the settlement; USC did not say whether it is confronted with disciplinary measures.
She was not admitted as a rowing rack but as a & # 39; special interest & # 39; student who was marked by the athletics department, said the dean of the USC according to a statement included in the university's file.
Timothy Brunold told the LA Times that USC is tagging a number of applicants & # 39; & # 39; for whom there is a special interest & # 39; but the majority of marked applicants are still not admitted.
USC admitted only 11 percent of candidates in 2019, the lowest rate in the history of the university.
The system to identify applicants such as & # 39; special interest & # 39; tagging is not formalized, according to USC lawyers.
& # 39; USC has no official procedures or specific documents that identify all students who have been tagged, who have applied the tags, why the tags have been applied or when they have been applied, & they said.
A statement from the school says that it is common practice at private universities, including the USC, for alumni, friends and donors to recommend future students & # 39 ;.
Zangrillo demanded files on & # 39; students applying for admission in the vicinity of a financial gift from a parent & # 39 ;.
The dean of admissions denied that a family could buy the admission of his child with a donation, and said the USC admission office is not aware of gifts.
& # 39; If I had known that a potential student's family had donated $ 50,000 or $ 100,000 to USC, this would not have influenced the decision of the admission department to admit the student & # 39 ;, said Brunold.
If admission to USC was guaranteed for such an amount, Zangrillo would never have bothered to pay $ 250,000 to falsify his daughter's application, USC's lawyers argued.
In the heavily edited archiving, Zangrillo also demanded all communication between USC employees – e-mails, text messages and instant messages – concerning his daughter.
USC's lawyers called that a & # 39; gigantic task & # 39 ;.
& # 39; She probably has thousands of emails with different students, professors, administrators, and other school staff, all of which have nothing to do with the circumstances of her admission to USC, & # 39; they said.
Instead of looking for specific documents, USC lawyers said, Zangrillo has demanded a lot of irrelevant data in the hope of stopping potential evidence.
Zangrillo's lawyers told a federal judge that the archives are relevant because they contain information about & other similarly located students applying for admission in the vicinity of a financial gift from a parent & # 39; Press Herald reported.
His submission is an example of the kind of defense that other parents can pursue when fighting their charges.
& # 39; If this pays off, I think this defense is open to many of these defendants, & # 39; Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor in Illinois, told the Press Herald.
& # 39; If you cannot argue the facts, you must appoint someone else. And who is better than a large corrupt university that has billions in store? & # 39;
Other parents are & # 39; Full House & # 39; actress Lori Loughlin, the most prominent defendant in the settlement who has not pleaded guilty.
Loughlin and her husband face 40 years in jail for spending $ 500,000 in bribes to get Olivia Jade and her sister Bella to USC.
Loughlin claimed that instead of knowingly financing Singer's operation, she thought she was giving a donation to the school for & # 39; a library or sports field & # 39 ;.
Other prominent defendants are Felicity Huffman.
She pleaded guilty to bribing her daughter to another school earlier this year and is now probably sentenced to months in prison or no prison at all.
Loughlin (center) and her husband face 40 years in jail for spending $ 500,000 in bribes to get Olivia Jade (left) and her sister Bella (right) to USC
Felicity Huffman, 56, has pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme – admitting that she paid a $ 15,000 admission consultant to have a proctor correct her older daughter's responses to the SAT. Pictured above with husband and daughters Sophia and Georgia in 2012
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