USC parent and former Pimco CEO pleads guilty in college admissions scandal

Former Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge will be sentenced Jan. 22 in Boston Federal Court.
(Daily Trojan file photo)

A former Pimco CEO pleaded guilty Monday on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering for his participation in Operation Varsity Blues. 

Douglas Hodge, a Laguna Beach resident, is accused of paying $525,000 to secure USC admission for his daughter and son as false soccer and football recruits. He began working with William “Rick” Singer, who ran the backdoor admissions scheme, in 2008 when Hodge allegedly began conspiring to gain his oldest daughter admittance to Georgetown University. He is also accused of attempting to secure admission to Loyola Marymount University for his youngest son in 2018.

In a prepared statement distributed by his legal team, Hodge wrote he takes “full and complete responsibility” for his actions.

“I have always prided myself on leading by example, and I am ashamed of the decisions I made,” he wrote. “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.” 

Hodge is the first of 19 parents to come forward on a guilty plea after refusing a deal to plead to a single fraud conspiracy charge. Three additional parents are also expected to plead guilty Monday. The group of 19, which includes actress Lori Loughlin and her husband fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was also charged with money laundering in April. According to the Los Angeles Times, their decisions to plead guilty follow increased pressure from federal prosecutors who warned that those maintaining innocence could be charged with committing federal program bribery as early as next week.

Hodge will be sentenced Jan. 22 by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton. According to a press release from the District of Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud can lead to a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the resulting gain or loss. Meanwhile, conspiracy to commit money laundering can result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved. 

To secure his daughter’s admission as a false soccer recruit, Hodge paid three installments of $50,000 to a private soccer club run by former USC women’s soccer head coach Ali Khosrohahin and former assistant coach Laura Janke in 2012 and 2013. He also paid an additional $150,000 to The Key and $50,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, both owned by Singer. According to the FBI investigation, his daughter’s application to USC claimed that she was co-captain of a Japanese national soccer team and an “All American” midfielder on a prestigious U.S. club team. Hodge’s daughter received admission to the University in March 2013.

Hodge’s son was accepted to USC in 2015. According to FBI investigation documents, Hodge inquired in December 2014 whether his son was “‘really qualified’ for USC, noting ‘He would go there in a heartbeat!!’” According to documents, Hodge received two falsified athletic recruitment profiles from Janke for football and tennis, which included fabricated accolades such as “Team Captain — Senior Year” and “NH Independent Schools All-American Selection 2013, 2014.” 

Hodge sent a $75,000 check to former senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, who was fired for her involvement in the college admissions scheme in March, for the USC “Women’s Athletic Board” and paid $125,000 to The Key and $125,000 to the Key WorldWide Foundation, some of which was transferred to Janke for the “SC Futbol Academy,” a private soccer team.

Records indicate his son did not play football in high school past freshman year. Though he did play tennis in high school, there was no record of his involvement in the First Team Lake Region League as indicated on the falsified profile.

“Doug I have provided t[w]o profiles from Laura,” Singer wrote in an email to Hodge. “Please download and send to Donna [Heinel] and ask her to use whichever she likes. Obviously we have stretched the truth but this is what is done for all kids. Admissions just needs something to work with to show he is an athlete. They do not follow up after Donna presents. Please confirm receipt and when you send to Donna.”

In response to a request for comment, USC directed the Daily Trojan to an informational page on its website last updated Aug. 12. 

“The University is conducting a full review of the matter and continues to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation,” the page read.