College admissions scandal: Ex-UCLA soccer coach pleads guilty to taking $200K in bribes

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence for Jorge Salcedo at the low end of the sentencing guidelines.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Jorge Salcedo arrives at the federal courthouse in Boston
Jorge Salcedo, the former men's soccer head coach at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, arrives at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts on March 25, 2019.Brian Snyder / Reuters

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By Phil Helsel

A former UCLA men's soccer coach on Monday admitted to accepting $200,000 in bribes as part of a college admissions cheating scheme, federal prosecutors said.

Jorge Salcedo, 47, who resigned from the University of California, Los Angeles in March 2019, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a statement.

He was accused of accepting the bribes to help get two students admitted to UCLA as purported soccer recruits, which was part of a scheme orchestrated by William "Rick" Singer.

With one student, Salcedo created a fake backstory as to how he learned of a couple's daughter through a club team coach, prosecutors said.

In another instance, he falsely claimed to have seen the son of another of Singer's clients compete in China, when in fact the son did not play competitively. That student was also admitted as a student-athlete.

An emailed request for comment from an attorney listed as representing him was not immediately returned Monday night.

Salcedo agreed to plead guilty in April, prosecutors said.

According to the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of incarceration at the low end of sentencing guidelines; one year of supervised release; a fine and restitution; and the forfeiture of $200,000.

The acceptance of the plea deal has been put off until sentencing, which is scheduled for Nov. 24, the U.S. attorney's office said.

In addition to Singer, Salcedo worked with Ali Khosroshahin, the former head of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California, prosecutors said.

She pleaded guilty in late June 2019, and sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Prosecutors say she is cooperating with the investigation.

The college admissions scheme, in which parents paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to help get their children into universities, came crashing down in March 2019 when 50 people were charged.

The FBI investigation was called "Operation Varsity Blues." The scheme involved cheating on standardized tests and bribing coaches to designate the kids fraudulently as athletic recruits, authorities have said.

Singer, the mastermind of the scheme, has pleaded guilty and wore a wire for the FBI during the investigation.

The parents of the students in the two cases for which Salcedo pleaded guilty have also pleaded guilty.

Davina and Bruce Isackson, the parents of the female purported soccer recruit, pleaded guilty in May 2019 and are cooperating in the investigation, according to prosecutors. Sentencing has not yet occurred.

The mother of the male student, Xiaoning Sui, was sentenced in May to time served, which amounts to about five months, and also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

Among those charged as part of the overall scheme were actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Loughlin's fashion-designer husband Mossimo Giannulli was also charged.

Huffman pleaded guilty in May 2019 and served 11 days of a 14-day sentence.

Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded guilty in May but have not yet been sentenced. They are scheduled to be sentenced next month.