Parent faces new tax fraud charge in college bribery case
BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts real estate developer accused of paying $220,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California faces a new tax fraud charge.
John Wilson, 59, of Lynnfield, Mass., was indicted Tuesday on one count of filing a false tax return. He has previously pleaded not guilty to federal charges including money laundering, wire fraud and federal programs bribery.
His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Federal prosecutors said Wilson paid $220,000 to get his son into USC as a water polo recruit and then deducted that amount from his 2014 tax returns, saying it was used for charitable donations and business expenses.
The charge carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Authorities say the $220,000 actually went to an account controlled by college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, who is accused of orchestrating the scheme. Wilson’s son was admitted to USC as a polo recruit in 2014 but withdrew from the team after his first semester, prosecutors say.
Wilson is also accused of paying Singer $1 million in hopes of paying bribes to get two daughters into Stanford and Harvard. But by that time, Singer was working with investigators and no athletics officials were bribed, according to court documents.
This is the fourth time prosecutors have added new charges in the case. In October, Wilson was among 11 parents indicted on charges of trying to bribe officials at an organization that receives at least $10,000 in federal funding. Others facing that charge include “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who have pleaded not guilty.
Dozens of wealthy and celebrity parents have been charged in the scheme that showed how far some will go to get their children into top universities like Stanford and Yale.
Some parents are accused of paying Singer to falsely portray their children as star athletes and then bribe college sports officials to get them admitted as recruited athletes. Others are accused of paying Singer to help cheat on their children’s SAT and ACT exams.
Singer has pleaded guilty and agreed to work with investigators in hopes of receiving a more lenient sentence.