Jeffrey Bizzack pleads guilty in college bribery scheme.
Jeffrey Bizzack, a tech executive from California, is set to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon in federal court to paying $250,000 to get his son admitted to the University of Southern California as a fake volleyball recruit.
He would become the 23rd defendant to admit guilt out of 51 charged in the sweeping “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. The other 28 are preparing for trial.
Bizzack, of Solana Beach, California, will appear before U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock. He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as part of a deal reached last month with federal prosecutors. He’s also agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.
Prosecutors say he paid $200,000 to college consultant Rick Singer, the mastermind of the cheating and recruitment bribery scheme, and $50,000 to USC.
Bizzack, 59, is the co-founder of Outerknown, a clothing store and fashion company, and a past business partner of heralded surfer Kelly Slater, whose Kelly Slater Wave Company builds wave pools. Bizzack is also the former president and vice chairman of the company ServiceSource.
He faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors have recommended nine months of prison, a $75,000 penalty, 12 months of supervision upon release and unspecified amounts of restitution and forfeiture.
Seth Berman, one of Bizzack’s attorneys, said last month Bizzack “voluntarily came forward to be accountable for his actions and accept responsibility for this incident.”
“He deeply regrets what he did and especially the effect it will have on his son. His son knew nothing of Mr. Bizzack’s actions. Mr. Bizzack will do his best to make up for this mistake and apologizes to USC and its hard-working students.”
Bizzack last month became the first new defendant to be charged in the college admissions scandal since the federal government’s case was unsealed in March. From the outset, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said more charges could be coming.
Singer has told investigators that he had hundreds of clients, but only 34 parents have been charged so far. The federal investigation is still ongoing.
In the government’s complaint, prosecutors say Singer emailed Bizzack in July 2017 seeking biographical information to help create a fabricated athletics profile for his son. Bizzack in return sent Singer his son’s academic transcripts.
Singer then forwarded the transcripts to Laura Janke, a former assistant women’s soccer coach at USC, who created the fake profile for Bizzack. Janke pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in May.
Prosecutors say Singer sent the volleyball profile to Donna Heinel, former USC senior associate athletic director, who presented Bizzack’s son before the USC subcommittee for athletics admissions as a purported volleyball recruit in October 2017.
Later that fall, Bizzack’s son was conditionally accepted into USC. Prosecutors say a letter from USC also said: “Your records indicate that you have the potential to make a
significant contribution to the intercollegiate athletic program as well as to the academic life of the university.”
In December 2017, Bizzack, at the direction of Singer, issued a $50,000 check to USC’s Galen Center, the main sports arena used by USC. Bizzack’s son was formally accepted by the school in March, 2018.
Later that spring, according to prosecutors, Bizzack made multiple payments to the Key Worldwide Foundation, the nonprofit led by Singer, totaling $200,000.
The complaint says Singer started making monthly $20,000 payments to Heinel in July in exchange for her assistance with Bizzack’s son and the children of other parents charged in the case.