USC professor admits tax burden in admissions scandal

BOSTON (AP) – An associate professor of dentistry at the University of Southern California pleaded guilty on Friday to a tax charge in connection with the college admissions scandal.

Homayoun Zadeh, 59, pleaded guilty by videoconference before a judge in a federal court in Boston to one count of filing a false tax return.

Zadeh was among 50 wealthy parents, sports trainers and others arrested in March 2019 in the case entitled “Operation Varsity Blues”. The program run by admissions consultant Rick Singer involved rigging test scores and paying sports coaches to help students get into the nation’s top universities, prosecutors said.

Zadeh has been accused of agreeing to pay $ 100,000 to help his daughter enter USC as a lacrosse rookie even though she was not playing the sport. Prosecutors said Zadeh deducted payments he made to Singer’s bogus charitable foundation from his taxes, even though he knew the payments were intended to facilitate his daughter’s admission to school.

Zadeh’s plea deal provides for six weeks behind bars, 250 hours of community service and a fine of $ 20,000. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss more serious charges, including conspiracy to commit acts of corruption in federal programs and conspiracy to launder money.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton has said he will decide whether or not to accept the plea after reviewing the presentation report, a document that helps guide sentencing decisions. Zadeh is due to be sentenced on November 10.

More than 30 parents have pleaded guilty to the case, including TV actresses Felicity Huffman, and Lori Loughlin and Loughlin’s fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli. A group of parents who are still fighting the charges are put on trial in September.

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