Former UCLA soccer coach gets 8 months in prison in US college admissions scandal

A 2019 photo shows Jorge Salcedo arriving for a hearing at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts. PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON (REUTERS) - A former men's soccer coach at the University of California, Los Angeles was sentenced on Friday (March 19) to eight months in prison after admitting he accepted US$200,000 (S$270,000) in bribes to facilitate the admission of two students as fake athletic recruits.

Jorge Salcedo, 48, is among several sports coaches at top universities, including Yale and Georgetown, who federal prosecutors in Boston have brought charges against related to the US college admissions scandal.

He is one of 57 people charged over a scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to fraudulently secure their children's college admissions.

Salcedo pleaded guilty last year.

Defence attorney Susan Winkler told US District Judge Indira Talwani that the Los Angeles resident broke the law to keep up with mortgage payments at a home that became a "financial albatross."

"I made foolish decisions from a place of desperation," Salcedo said.

Talwani said Salcedo had decided to wrongly "take what appeared to be a simple path to resolve that financial issue."

She also ordered Salcedo to forfeit US$200,000.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of students to colleges as fake athletic recruits.

Prosecutors said that in 2016, Salcedo worked with Singer to help the daughter of a California couple, Davina and Bruce Isackson, gain admission to UCLA as a purported soccer recruit in exchange for US$100,000 of the US$250,000 they paid Singer.

He later in 2018 agreed to "recruit" the son of another of Singer's clients, Xiaoning Sui, to the UCLA men's soccer team, even though he did not play the sport competitively, in exchange for US$100,000, prosecutors said.

The Isacksons and Sui have pleaded guilty. Thirty parents in total have pleaded guilty including Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Full House star Lori Loughlin.

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