BOSTON (AP) — One of the students prosecutors say was admitted to the University of Southern California with bogus athletic credentials as part of the college admissions bribery scheme didn’t even make her high school’s varsity basketball team, a former classmate testified at trial.
The testimony came Friday as prosecutors wrapped up the first week of their case against former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz and former Staples and Gap Inc. executive John Wilson, who are accused of paying hefty bribes to help their kids get into college by falsely presenting them as athletic recruits.
Rachel Qu Sih, a senior at Wellesley College, told jurors she attended the Hong Kong International School with Abdelaziz’s daughter, The Boston Globe reported. The profile submitted to USC claimed the daughter was starting point guard and captain of the girls basketball team.
“Untrue,” Sih told jurors, according to the Globe. Sih said Abdelaziz’s daughter played for two years on the junior varsity team and didn’t make the cut for the varsity team. Some of the photos included with the girl’s basketball athletic profile were not actually of her, Sih said.
Defense attorneys for Abdelaziz and Wilson have said they were unaware of any false or embellished credentials included in their children’s athletic profiles. They have pointed the finger at admissions consultant Rick Singer, the admitted mastermind of the scheme, who has pleaded guilty.
The defense has said their clients never discussed paying bribes and believed their payments were legitimate donations.
Abdelaziz, of Las Vegas, is accused of paying $300,000 to get his daughter into USC.
Wilson, who heads a Massachusetts private equity firm, is charged with paying $220,000 to have his son designated as a USC water polo recruit and an additional $1 million to buy his twin daughters’ ways into Harvard and Stanford.
Though they were among dozens of prominent parents, athletic coaches and others arrested across the country when the case exploded into the headlines over two years ago, theirs is the first to go trial. Testimony in the case in Boston’s federal court continues next week.