Admissions scheme: Parents sentenced for paying $250K to get daughter into USC as volleyball recruit

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The USC campus is seen in this undated photo.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The USC campus is seen in this undated photo.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A California couple got prison time Tuesday for paying $250,000 to get their daughter into the University of Southern California as a volleyball recruit — the latest sentencing in the college admissions bribery scheme that’s roiled the worlds of higher education, sports and entertainment..

Diane Blake was sentenced to six weeks behind bars while Todd Blake was sentenced to four months, under plea deals made with prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Wright described Todd Blake as the more active participant in the scam but said his wife was “fully complicit.”

Diane Blake told a Boston federal court judge in a hearing held via videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic that she is “truly sorry” for her actions. Her husband said he is “ready to accept the consequences.”

The Blakes, of Ross, California, are among more than 50 people charged in the scheme led by college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

The Blakes worked with Singer to get their daughter into USC as a volleyball recruit in 2018, authorities said. Todd Blake sent a $50,000 check for USC women’s athletics to then-senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and wired $200,000 to Singer’s fake charity, authorities said. Their daughter was formally admitted a month later.

When questioned by a USC official about the money, Todd Blake lied and said it was “to commemorate a friend who was a former women’s basketball coach,” prosecutors said.

Heinel has pleaded not guilty to charges.

More than 40 people have admitted to charges in the case, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin, and Loughlin’s fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli.

Loughlin late last month began serving her two-month prison term for paying $500,000 to get her two daughters into USC as bogus rowing recruits. Giannulli has been ordered to report to prison on Thursday to begin his five-month sentence.

Huffman served a two-week prison stint last year for paying $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score.

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