By COLLIN BINKLEY
BOSTON (AP) — A woman accused of paying $400,000 to get her son into the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as a fake soccer recruit has become the 52nd person charged in a sweeping college admissions bribery scheme, according to an indictment unsealed on Sept. 17.
Xiaoning Sui, 48, of Surrey, British Columbia, was charged with a single count of conspiracy and fraud in the indictment unsealed in Boston’s federal court.
Authorities say she was arrested
in Spain on Sept. 16 and was being held there while authorities seek to extradite her to the United States. Sui is the first person to be charged since June, when parent Jeffrey Bizzack pleaded guilty to paying $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California (USC) as a fake athlete. Dozens of others were charged in March when authorities announced the investigation.
Prosecutors say Sui paid $400,000 to a sham charity operated by admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer as part of a scheme to have her son admitted to UCLA as a fake soccer recruit. Sui is accused of providing Singer her son’s transcript and photos of him playing tennis.
Singer worked with Laura Janke, a former assistant soccer coach at USC, to fabricate an athletic profile depicting Sui’s son as a top player on two private soccer clubs in Canada, prosecutors said. Both Singer and Janke have pleaded guilty.
Sui’s son was admitted to UCLA as a soccer player in November 2018, authorities say, and was awarded a 25 percent scholarship.
The case was outlined in a March indictment against former UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo that didn’t identify Sui by name. The document said only that Salcedo accepted $200,000 to help two of Singer’s clients get their children admitted as soccer recruits, including one in October 2018. Salcedo has pleaded not guilty.
A statement from UCLA says it took “immediate corrective action” after the March indictment was released. The school said privacy laws prevent it from discussing specific cases, but officials are “not aware of any currently enrolled student-athletes who are under suspicion” by the Justice Department.
The alleged bribe ranks among the highest in the scheme. Some other parents are accused of making payments of up to $500,000, and some pursued the scheme multiple times, prosecutors say, with payments totaling up to $1.2 million. Prosecutors did not explain why Sui was not part of the original group of parents charged. Court documents show Sui’s indictment was filed in March but remained under seal until Sept. 17.
The scandal has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents accused of paying bribes to rig their children’s SAT and ACT scores or get them admitted as recruited athletes to elite schools across the nation, including Yale, Stanford and Georgetown universities.
Of the 51 people previously charged, 23 have pleaded guilty, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman , who paid $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score. She was sentenced on Sept. 13 to 14 days in prison, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine.
Another 28 defendants are contesting the charges against them, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying to get their two daughters into USC as fake athletes on the crew team.