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College admissions scandal: 2 more, including former USC coach, agree to plead guilty

Coaches, Test Administrators In College Scandal Arraigned In Boston
Laura Janke, center, former assistant women’s soccer coach at USC, is shown outside court in Boston on March 25.
(Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Two more people will plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, including a former USC soccer coach who has agreed to cooperate with the government’s widening investigation, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Laura Janke, an assistant soccer coach at USC from 2007 to 2014, will plead guilty to a racketeering charge and cooperate with prosecutors, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts said. Her cooperation could open a key line of inquiry for investigators, who are continuing to probe the admissions scam perpetrated by a Newport Beach consultant, William “Rick” Singer.

Fifty people, including 33 parents, have been charged in the far-reaching scheme. But prosecutors have signaled, in court filings and interviews with witnesses, that they are expanding the scope of their investigation. As the Los Angeles Times previously reported, prosecutors from Massachusetts were in Los Angeles last week, asking about students whose parents had yet to be charged.

And a Bay Area couple who brokered a cooperation deal have been questioned about who at USC and UCLA knew of an athletic recruiting scam, people familiar with the talks have said. Singer has admitted to bribing university coaches and officials to slip the children of his clients into their schools as phony athletes.

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Janke, 36, was for years deeply involved in the recruiting scheme, according to charging documents filed in federal court. She often served as Singer’s liaison with the coaches allegedly on his payroll, and created athletic profiles, replete with lies and fake accolades, for the children of his clients, prosecutors allege.

Janke negotiated a formal cooperation deal, indicating that prosecutors believe she has provided, or will provide, credible information that is useful to their investigation.

With fake credentials and doctored photographs, prosecutors say, Janke passed off actress Lori Loughlin’s daughter as a recruited rower; the daughter of a USC dental professor, who was in fact a cheerleader, as a recruited lacrosse player; and the son of a San Diego media executive as an “elite school pole vaulter,” among other shams.

The purported pole vaulter’s application was accompanied by a photograph of someone else, prosecutors say.

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Laura Janke submitted this photograph to USC, purportedly showing the son of a San Diego media executive competing in track and field. Prosecutors say it was of someone else.
(U.S. attorney’s office of Massachusetts)

Janke conspired with Singer while she was the assistant women’s soccer coach at USC, and continued after she left in 2014, according to charging documents filed in federal court. Most recently, she was employed as the director of girls soccer at the Geffen Academy at UCLA, a college prep school affiliated with the public university.

A grand jury has indicted her former boss, Ali Khosroshahin, on a racketeering charge. Prosecutors say Janke and Khosroshahin reaped $350,000 from the scheme. Khosroshahin has pleaded not guilty.

Khosroshahin led the women’s soccer program at Cal State Fullerton, where he coached Janke, before taking charge of the USC women’s soccer program in 2007. He was fired in 2013.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Janke will forfeit $134,213. Prosecutors said they will recommend a prison sentence at the low end of a range between 27 and 33 months. If they decide Janke provided information that furthered their investigation, prosecutors can recommend that she receive a sentence below that range.

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

Toby MacFarlane, a Del Mar title insurance executive, also will plead guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge, the U.S. attorney’s office said, bringing to 14 the number of parents who have admitted taking part in Singer’s scheme.

In announcing she would plead guilty, actress Felicity Huffman admitted to using Singer’s services to fraudulently inflate her daughter’s SAT score and expressed remorse for what she called a “transgression” against the public and her daughter, whom she said had no knowledge of the scheme.

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Nineteen parents, including Loughlin and her husband, J. Mossimo Giannulli, have been indicted on charges of fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say MacFarlane, 56, paid Singer and his associates $450,000 to ensure his two children were admitted to USC as recruited athletes. His daughter was recruited to the university as a soccer player in 2014 after submitting an athletic profile that said — among other falsehoods — she was a “U.S. Club Soccer All-American” for three years, according to a criminal complaint charging her father with fraud conspiracy. MacFarlane paid Singer $200,000 for the scam, prosecutors allege.

Singer, the scheme’s admitted mastermind, even wrote an essay for MacFarlane’s daughter that described her as intensely competitive on the soccer field, “the one who looks like a boy amongst girls with my hair tied up, arms sleeveless, and blood and bruises from head to toe.”

In truth, prosecutors say, MacFarlane’s daughter did not play the sport competitively. When the student was asked by the USC women’s soccer coach why she had not shown up for practice, she was told by Singer to say she had plantar fasciitis, prosecutors say. She graduated in 2018, never having played soccer at the university.

MacFarlane paid an additional $250,000 in 2017 to ensure his son, who is 5-foot-5, was recruited to USC as a basketball player, prosecutors allege. Despite his height and the fact he did not play on his high school’s varsity team until his senior year, MacFarlane’s son was admitted to USC as a basketball recruit in 2017, according to the FBI affidavit.

He attended the school briefly before withdrawing in 2018, prosecutors say.


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