Parent sentenced to two months in prison for admissions scandal

Former surfing executive Jeffrey Bizzack was sentenced to two months in prison Wednesday after paying $250,000 in Fall 2017 to have his son admitted to USC by falsely designating him as a volleyball recruit.

He will also have to pay a $250,000 fine, perform 300 hours of community service and face three years of supervised release.

Bizzack pleaded guilty July 24 to  one count of conspiracy to commit wire mail fraud and honest services mail fraud after paying a total of $250,000 in exchange for the admission of his son, who allegedly had no knowledge of the scheme. 

Of the money Bizzack paid, $50,000 was paid directly to USC’s Galen Center, while the remaining $200,000 was paid under the guise of a donation to the Key Worldwide Foundation, a fraudulent nonprofit created by the admissions scheme leader William “Rick” Singer. 

Singer, who pleaded guilty to four charges associated with the scandal in March, used the money to pay monthly installments to former USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel, according to the Los Angeles Times. Heinel was fired from her position in March following the discovery of her role in the scandal and currently faces five charges in connection with the scandal.

Singer also conspired with former USC assistant soccer coach Laura Janke, who faces one charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering, to create a fake athletic profile for Bizzack’s son that presented him as a star volleyball player. Heinel then presented the applicant, designated as a men’s volleyball recruit, to an admissions committee, which granted him conditional acceptance. Bizzack’s son was formally admitted to the University in March 2018.

Bizzack’s attorneys originally argued that because Bizzack contacted federal officials with information about his connection to the scandal upon learning about the scheme’s uncovering, he should be given a comparatively light sentence of probation and community service only. 

In June, Bizzack became the first defendant charged in the case since the case was made public in March. He was the 51st person charged and is the 13th to be sentenced in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. His $250,000 fine is the largest to date in the admissions scandal.

Bizzack’s sentencing marks the fourth for a USC parent in the college admissions case. Of the 33 parents named in the case, 16 are USC parents. 

The sentencing comes after those of USC parents Jane Buckingham and Agustin Huneeus Jr. earlier this month and Devin Sloane in September. Huneeus was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services wire mail fraud and was sentenced to five months in prison, two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service and a fine of $100,000.

Buckingham and Sloane, also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, received comparatively lighter penalties. Buckingham was sentenced to three weeks in prison, one year of supervised release and a $40,000 fine. Sloane was sentenced to four months in prison, two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service and a $95,000 fine.