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College admission scandal: Napa winemaker sentenced to 5 months



Agustin Huneeus Jr., a well-known winemaker from the Napa Valley, was sentenced to five months in prison for his arrest in the college admission scandal on Friday for paying his daughter's entrance exam into the UK USC as dropped and tried to infiltrate it into the USC a wrong athlete.

The verdict is the last to be imposed on a number of affluent, influential parents who have chosen to plead guilty to settling with William "Rick" Singer, a college admissions consultant at the center of the fraud, conspired. Fabricating test results and bypassing the elite school admissions process. Singer, too, has pleaded guilty to several crimes and cooperates with prosecutors in his cases against his alleged accomplices. He is waiting for the conviction.

With her decision, US District Judge Indira Talwani dealt harder with Huneeus than with other parents who had previously been convicted. However, it fell far short of the 1

5-month sentence, which the Federal Prosecutor's Office had described as an appropriate punishment. Huneeus lawyers, meanwhile, had conceded before his conviction that the 53-year-old father of three should not avoid jail altogether, but had only asked Talwani for bars for two months. They said Huneeus had already been severely punished for losing his business and being publicly humiliated.

Along with the detention, Talwani asked Huneeus to pay a fine of $ 100,000 and do 500 hours of community service.

Huneeus hurriedly resigned in March as managing director of Huneeus Vinters, a company his parents founded after being named as one of the dozens of parents involved in the fraud. He soon pleaded guilty and admitted that he had paid $ 100,000 to join the licensing scheme and was willing to pay another $ 200,000 before the authorities went public with their case.

The prosecutors had argued in court records that even in a greed-afflicted case, Huneeus had the right to exceptionally rich and privileged families and distinguished himself by his bold, unconcealed thrust into the fraud and his efforts to eliminate all illegal offerings Singer to avail.

"Huneeus's crime was calculated and carefully planned," wrote Atty the US assistant. Justin O'Connell in a note to Talwani. "From the beginning … Huneeus wanted to know exactly how the scam works, suggested ways to make it more effective, and demanded the attention of Singer, doing all this while acknowledging to Singer that what she did […] Of the eleven parents who pleaded guilty to the case, O Connell pointed out that only Huneeus Singer paid for his daughter's SAT score To increase and secure her a place in the USC allegedly bribing members of the school's sports department.

In 2017, a few months after Singer began to provide legitimate help in preparing his daughter for college, Huneeus took Ask the Newport Beach consultant for his offer to find a surefire way to earn an impressive score for the teen's upcoming SAT.

Instead of taking the exam at the private school in the Tony Bay Area a As she visited, she flew her down with her father to West Hollywood, where Singer had the director of a school on his payroll. She was met there by another singer-accomplice, Mark Riddell – an experienced test taker who coached the girl through the exam and corrected her wrong answers. Singer charged Huneeus $ 50,000 for the service and paid $ 10,000 to Riddell and the headmaster each. Riddell, who has also run tests for several other Singer customers, has admitted his role and is waiting for the conviction. The headmaster said in the court records this week that he, too, would plead guilty.

The good but not exceptional score Riddell scored for the teenager left Huneeus unsatisfied. In telephone conversations recorded by investigators and e-mails, Huneeus Singer pressed on why his money had not bought a higher score, and gave rise to the idea of ​​carrying out other tests. Singer persuaded him, explaining that too high a score would have aroused suspicion.

Instead, Huneeus went over to the other, bolder part of Singer's scheme. For $ 250,000, Singer paid contacts in the USC sports department to lead Huneeus' daughter through a "side door" to school, challenging her as the wrong water polo player.

again polo and how it works, "Huneeus told Singer in a recorded phone call in August 2018." How the economy, the timing, how all this works.

Although the girl played the sport, she was: According to her, not good and according to court records far below the level required for the USC program. After a blueprint that he had used several times, Singer made a sports resume of fictitious successes and a photo showing another girl participating in a match. A USC water polo coach and senior track and field athlete then secured a seat for the girl by handing it over to the admissions officer as a talented player, prosecutors said.

On Singer's statement, Huneeus sent a check for $ 50,000 to a USC account controlled by athletics administrator Donna Heinel. The prosecutors exposed their case in March before Huneeus closed the deal and sent $ 200,000 to Singer. The girl did not enroll in USC. Heinel and the water polo coach did not plead guilty.

Lawyers of Huneeus have highlighted in a lawsuit that Huneeus' daughter did not enroll in the USC and therefore did not sneak into the USC's selective school from a more deserving candidate. After watching Huneeus 'defense team in recent weeks, Talwani had told other parents' lawyers arguing that their clients were out of jail that he should have been imprisoned, and instead tried the To mitigate punishment by calling Huneeus & # 39; Huneeus was known for his fairness and kindness among the people who worked for him.

Until his demise, Huneeus ran his family business, which owns several sorts of wine and made news in 2016 when another of its popular labels sold $ 285 million to another company. He gave up control of the company in the days following his arrest on concerns that his legal issues could jeopardize the company's license to produce wine.

Huneeus himself wrote a note of remorse in a letter to the judge, stating that he took responsibility for his crime.

"I am looking forward to my conviction so that I can begin to put this behind me. I want to pay my contributions and feel clean again. This was the most momentous experience I ever had to overcome, and it's self-inflicted, "he wrote. On the same day, Huneeus, the California governor, Gavin Newsom, signed three bills in response to admission to college. The governor takes the admission scandal, which shook several universities earlier this year, seriously, which is why he signed three of them draft bills Dealing with the Integrity of California Admissions, "said Newsom spokesman Jesse Melgar.

Newsom also gave his signature for a measure that prevents those who were found guilty in the registration scandal from getting tax deductions on payments earned Singer money, which he often flowed through a fraudulent charity. The third measure approved by Newsom, California State University and University of California and independent universities will notify Legislators of preferential treatment to applicants for their relationships with donors or alumni

Newsom said the reforms he signed and the bills he was supposed to support financially would dispel concerns that some Californians are at a disadvantage in trying to get a university education.

The requirement that three university administrators qualify for admission "exceptionally" applies to students who do not meet the normal admission requirements of a school, but who enter or are considered disadvantaged because of a special talent such as sporting or performing skills. In 2018, the Cal State system exceptionally enrolled 1,410 students, including 924 non-disadvantaged students.

The law requires students enrolled in sports or visual arts courses to complete at least a one-year training course year-a requirement designed to protect against fraud such as Singer's side door.

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