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Former TPG exec Bill McGlashan says he never paid a bribe to get his son into college

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Bill McGlashan
(David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty Images )

A former top private equity executive charged in the college admissions scandal denies he paid any bribe to get his son into USC using a “side door” and says the boy has a legitimate learning disability that warranted special testing provisions.

Bill McGlashan, the former managing partner of San Francisco-based TPG Growth, has sought to rebuff federal prosecutors who allege he discussed a $200,000 bribe with a college athletic director to get his son into USC. McGlashan had built a reputation on good investing and helped found the company’s social impact arm with U2’s Bono before he was fired by the investment firm last week.

“Mr. McGlashan did not pay for the use of a so-called ‘side door’ to obtain admission for his son at USC or any other college,” his lawyers wrote in a court filing seeking to allow him to travel for business as well as on an international family vacation.

He is among 35 parents charged in connection with a scheme run by college admissions mastermind William “Rick Singer” that involved payments to his charity and bribes to university officials.

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His attorneys, Jack W. Pirozzolo and John C. Hueston argued that their client differs from all the other parents accused in the far-reaching scandal. McGlashan, who has pleaded not guilty, says he paid Singer $50,000 for legitimate college counseling services for his son.

Federal prosecutors, however, allege that McGlashan paid that $50,000 in December 2017 to a charity controlled by Singer and say the money was given three days before his son took an ACT exam at a site managed by Singer in West Hollywood — hundreds of miles from their Northern California home. Authorities say the test was then “corrected” by one of Singer’s paid associates. McGlashan’s son, according to prosecutors, scored a 34 out of 36.

According to the filing, he was unaware of the test-taking plan.

Full coverage: Dozens charged — including Hollywood actresses — in connection with college admissions scheme »

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McGlashan is also charged with conspiring to bribe Donna Heinel, the then senior athletic director at USC, to help admit his son as an athletic recruit.

Evidence in the case includes a recorded conversation between McGlashan and Singer in which they discuss creating a fake football profile for McGlashan’s son.

“You don’t have to tell him a thing,” Singer says, according to a wiretap transcript.

Singer told McGlashan he would use Photoshop to create a fake profile of the boy as a football kicker to get him into USC. “Perfect,” McGlashan says. “He does have really strong legs.”

Heinel, who was fired by USC when charges against her were revealed, has pleaded not guilty. Singer has pleaded guilty to multiple fraud counts and has been cooperating with authorities since September.

McGlashan’s attorneys argue that his son was diagnosed with a learning disability in 2015 and legitimately needed more time to take the ACT exam. Federal prosecutors, however, say McGlashan discussed repeating the scheme in July 2018 and how he would get a doctor to make a diagnosis that would also get his younger children more time on the test and open the door to their using the West Hollywood testing center.

According to court records, McGlashan’s son submitted the alleged doctored ACT score to Northeastern University in Boston.

But McGlashan’s legal team says his son withdrew his applications to college and hasn’t even graduated from high school.

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“There is no allegation that Mr. McGlashan’s son ever attended a university based on any of the alleged conduct,” Pirozzolo said.

Jon Winkelried, co-chief executive officer of San Francisco-based TPG Growth, said Wednesday that the allegations against McGlashan “were pretty shocking” and that the firm had initiated an internal investigation into the charges.

The 55-year-old McGlashan apologized to TPG board members in a memo, saying it would be “best set to continue their mission” without him.

“I am deeply sorry this very difficult situation may interfere with the work to which I have devoted my life,” the Mill Valley financier said in a statement.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Twitter: @lacrimes


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