An accountant who laundered bribes and a collegiate soccer coach who pocketed them pleaded guilty Thursday in Boston to racketeering conspiracy, acknowledging they played key roles in a scheme that defrauded some of the country’s most prestigious universities.
Ali Khosroshahin — a Fountain Valley resident who led the USC women’s soccer program from 2007 to 2013 and coached boys’ soccer at Newport Harbor High School from 2016 to 2018 — recruited four students to his USC program who had never played soccer in a competitive setting, prosecutors say.
In exchange, Khosroshahin took more than $200,000 in bribes from William “Rick” Singer, the admitted architect of the test-fixing and bribery scam that exploded into public view in March.
Steven Masera, an accountant from the Sacramento suburb of Folsom, kept the books for the Key Worldwide Foundation, a charity that claimed to help low-income children but did little more than funnel money from wealthy parents to coaches who misrepresented their children as recruited athletes, and to test proctors who let them cheat on their entrance exams.
Some parents deducted the five- and six-figure bribes from their tax bills, prosecutors alleged.
Fifty people have been charged with fraud and money laundering crimes by the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, including 33 parents from some of the country’s wealthiest enclaves and some of its most lucrative and influential industries.
Both Masera and Khosroshahin have signed cooperation agreements, promising to tell prosecutors what they know of the scam in hopes of receiving leniency when they are sentenced. Masera will be sentenced Oct. 22; Khosroshahin on Oct. 25. Should any of the 28 defendants who have maintained their innocence go to trial, Masera and Khosroshahin could be called to testify against them.
Prosecutors recommend that Masera, 69, spend about five years in prison, according to his plea agreement and federal sentencing guidelines. They recommend Khosroshahin, 46, be imprisoned for about four years and forfeit $209,000, the sum he reaped from Singer’s scheme. If prosecutors decide either of the men helped their investigation substantially, they could ask a judge to sentence them below the ranges laid out in their plea deals.
Matthew Ormseth writes for the Los Angeles Times. Daily Pilot staff contributed to this report.