USC parent Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of investment management firm Pimco, pleaded guilty Monday in a Boston federal court, admitting his involvement in the nationwide college admissions scheme.
Hodge was among the parents who maintained their innocence but later changed their plea after pressure from prosecutors. The Laguna Beach resident was accused of paying a total of $525,000 for his daughter and son to be admitted to USC as fake soccer and football recruits, according to the Department of Justice documents.
The FBI affidavit states that Hodge also used William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind behind the scheme, to influence his elder daughter’s admission to Georgetown University as a fake tennis player. Before the news broke, Hodge was allegedly discussing with Singer about the possibility of pursuing the college recruitment scheme for his youngest son’s admission to Loyola Marymount University.
Singer has pleaded guilty.
Hodge has four children, and two of them were accepted into USC. On Feb. 13, 2013, Ali Khosroshahin, then-USC women’s soccer head coach, emailed Donna Heinel, then-senior associate athletics director, an athletic profile containing false information about Hodge’s daughter’s soccer experience and awards, according to the affidavit. Heinel presented his daughter’s profile to the USC subcommittee for athletic admissions as a purported soccer recruit the next day.
Prior to that date, Singer had already wired $100,000 to a bank account in the name of a private soccer club controlled by Khosroshahin and Laura Janke, then an assistant coach of the women's soccer team at USC. Khosroshahin and Janke have pleaded guilty. Heinel has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say that Hodge paid $150,000 to the Edge College and Career Network Inc., Singer’s for-profit entity also known as the Key, and $50,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), Singer’s nonprofit bogus charity on April 9, 2013, — two weeks after his younger daughter received her formal USC acceptance letter.
On May 15, 2013, Singer directed an additional $50,000 to that private soccer club controlled by Khosroshahin and Janke. In this case, the affidavit does not list any money funneled into USC’s accounts or Heinel’s accounts.
Hodge’s daughter matriculated at USC in 2013 and did not join the soccer team. It’s also the earliest USC-related case among the known ones.
In January 2015, Hodge was allegedly in email communication with Heinel who was giving instructions on preparing Hodge’s son’s athletic profile. It’s one of the very few cases described in the affidavit where a parent allegedly had direct communication with Heinel. In other cases, Singer acted as the middleman forwarding emails. Janke, who already had left USC at that point, helped with producing fake athletic profiles. The court document states Heinel “provided handwritten edits” to a profile Janke made and offered suggestions for “a ‘better picture’ that was ‘more athletic.’”
According to the affidavit, Heinel presented Hodge’s son’s profile that included false athletics experience to the USC subcommittee for athletic admissions as a purported football recruit on Feb. 12, 2015. The student received a formal acceptance letter on March 24, 2015.
Soon, Hodge mailed a $75,000 check to the USC “Women Athletics Board,” an account under Heinel’s control. Hodge also wired $125,000 to The Key and KWF, respectively.
Hodge’s son deferred his admission and enrolled at USC in 2017 and did not join the football team.
“I accept full and complete responsibility for my conduct. I have always prided myself on leading by example, and I am ashamed of the decisions I made,” Hodge said a statement. “I acted out of love for my children, but I know that this explanation for my actions is not an excuse. I also want to apologize to the deserving college students who may have been adversely impacted by this process.”
According to the FBI document, Hodge also used Singer’s influence, through former Georgetown University Tennis Coach Gordie Ernst, to secure his elder daughter’s admission to Georgetown as a tennis player. The affidavit states the application contains false athletic experience and does not mention any money transaction for this case. Ernst has pleaded not guilty.
In August 2018, before the admission scheme news broke, Hodge was discussing with Singer about getting his younger son admitted to Loyola Marymount University, according to an excerpt of a phone call wiretapped within court authorization and shown in the FBI documents.
When emailed for comment, USC directed Annenberg Media to their question-and-answer website on the college admission scandal, which was last updated Aug. 11.
Hodge’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2020.