Prosecutors criticize ex-PIMCO chief’s plea for resentencing

Federal prosecutors have denounced former PIMCO chief Douglas Hodge’s plea for resentencing in the college admissions scandal in documents filed Friday, arguing that the new information that surfaced after his sentencing did nothing to change his degree of culpability in the scandal. In a memorandum filed May 1, Hodge claimed that the government withheld evidence that would serve in his favor and that it erroneously labeled his involvement in the scandal as bribery following the surfacing of new information pertinent to the case in February.

“Hodge’s motion is without merit and his factual contentions are demonstrably untrue, belied by among other things his own sworn statements to this Court and his statements to government investigators,” prosecutors wrote in the documents filed Friday.

Hodge, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in October, was sentenced in February to nine months in prison — the longest of any of the parents sentenced in Operation Varsity Blues to date. The court also ordered him to pay a $750,000 fine, complete 500 hours of community service and undergo two years of supervised release.

Hodge, who paid $850,000 to gain four of his children admission to USC and Georgetown University as fake athletic recruits and aimed to gain his fifth child admission to Loyola Marymount University, has sought to partially withdraw his plea to conspiracy to commit money laundering and receive a resentencing for his fraud charge. 

This new plea comes three months after prosecutors disclosed that scheme mastermind William “Rick” Singer took notes on his phone in October that Hodge said skewed in his favor because they demonstrated that Singer purposefully omitted labeling the payments as donations, a distinction that he said reframed his criminal intent. In the notes, Singer, who facilitated the admission of Hodge’s children along with those of others indicted in the bribery scheme, wrote that he intentionally misled parents to believe their payments were legitimate and that he was directed by prosecutors to testify that the parents knew the money would be used to bribe university officials.

However, prosecutors argue that Singer’s statements do not change the circumstances pertaining to Hodge’s case as he knowingly made payments to Georgetown’s tennis coach and admitted to the court that his payments were made in exchange for his children’s fraudulent university admissions.

“The Hodge children did not ‘obtain favorable consideration.’ Hodge stole admission slots for them from deserving applicants using illegal payoffs,” the documents filed by the prosecutors read. “Singer did not, sua sponte, provide Hodge’s children with a ‘false athletic brand.’ Hodge conspired with Singer to fabricate their credentials and impersonate real athletes. This is not ‘branding.’ It is fraud, and Hodge stands rightly convicted of two federal felonies because of it.”

Prosecutors also asserted that Hodge made it clear his payments were donations before the release of new information because he stated so in his sentencing memorandum and an editorial published in February in the Wall Street Journal shortly after his sentencing.

Hodge’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

Early this month, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton rejected a request from 13 parents indicted in the scheme asking for the court to dismiss charges against them because prosecutors withheld evidence that would have supported their defense also following the release of Singer’s notes.

To date, 26 of the 36 parents indicted in the scheme have pleaded guilty, including 10 who paid for false admission to USC. Actress Lori Louglin pleaded guilty last week for her involvement and will serve two months in prison if the deal struck with prosecutors is accepted.