USC professor admits to tax charge in admissions scandal


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

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

Zadeh was among 50 wealthy parents, athletic coaches and others arrested in March 2019 in the case dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” The scheme led by an admissions consultant, Rick Singer, involved rigging test scores and paying off sports coaches help students get into top universities across the country, prosecutors say.

Zadeh was accused of agreeing to pay $100,000 to help his daughter get into USC as a lacrosse recruit even though she didn’t play the sport. Prosecutors say Zadeh deducted the payments he made to Singer’s bogus charitable foundation from his taxes as a charitable gift even though he knew the payments were designed to facilitate his daughter’s admission to the school.

Zadeh’s plea deal calls for six weeks behind bars, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine. Under his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss more serious charges, including conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and money laundering conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said he will decide whether to accept the plea after considering the presentencing report, a document that helps guide sentencing decisions. Zadeh is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 10.

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

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