Two parents in the college admissions case have agreed to plead guilty for arranging for their daughter’s fraudulent acceptance to USC as a volleyball recruit.
Diane and Todd Blake enlisted the help of Operation Varsity Blues scheme organizer William “Rick” Singer to secure their daughter’s admission to USC in fall 2017. Senior associate athletic administrator Donna Heinel, Singer’s co-conspirator, created a recruitment profile for the Blakes’ daughter that listed several fabricated athletic honors and presented it to an admissions committee in September 2017, whereupon conditional acceptance was granted and the couple sent Singer and Heinel payments totaling $250,000.
The Blakes face charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Diane will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud, while Todd will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The government attorney prosecuting the case will drop the other charges as part of the plea deal.
The government has recommended a sentence of four months in prison, two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service for Todd, while Diane received a lighter recommended penalty of six weeks in prison, two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. The prosecution has also recommended each of them be fined $125,000. The maximum penalty the court may impose upon Diane is a 20-year prison sentence with three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, while Todd faces up to 40 years in prison, six years of supervised release and a fine of $750,000.
The Blakes are scheduled to enter their guilty pleas Tuesday in Boston federal court. They are among 19 parents in the admissions case connected to USC and will join the eight to date who have entered guilty pleas and proceeded to sentencing. The remaining nine parents with ties to the University have opted to contest charges and will stand trial beginning in October.