A federal judge branded the former head of bond giant Pimco a “common thief” and sentenced him Friday to nine months in prison for his role in the sweeping college admissions cheating scandal.
Douglas Hodge, who had earlier admitted paying $850,000 in bribes to get four of his seven children admitted to elite colleges, also had his request to serve out part of his sentence at home turned down by the judge.
“I have in my heart the deepest remorse for my actions,” a teary-eyed Hodge told Judge Nathaniel Groton in Boston. “I do not believe that ego or desire for high social standing drove my decision-making. Rather, I was driven by my own transformative educational experiences and my deep parental love.”
Hodge, in his statement, also absolved his children, saying they “did nothing to deserve the consequences they have suffered as a result of my actions.”
Groton was unmoved and called Hodge a “common thief.”
“Mr. Hodge, your conduct in this whole sordid affair is appalling and mind-boggling,” Groton said. “There is no term in the English language that describes your conduct as well as the Yiddish term chutzpah."
Then, Groton imposed on Hodge, a Dartmouth and Harvard graduate, charged with money laundering and wire and mail fraud charges, the stiffest punishment among 14 parents who have been sentenced thus far.
That group includes “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who has already served her two-week stint behind bars for paying a consultant to cheat on her daughter’s SAT exam.
Groton also denied Hodge’s request to split his sentence and home confinement (he lives in a palatial Pacific Coast mansion in Laguna Beach, California), ordered him to pay $750,000 in fines, and perform 500 hours of community service.
Prosecutors had recommended sending Hodge, 62, to prison for two years. He is the former CEO of the Pacific Investment Management Company.
In their sentencing memo, they said Hodge paid $325,000 to a Georgetown University tennis coach to have his oldest daughter and son admitted as tennis players, and $525,000 to get another daughter and son into the University of Southern California as soccer and football recruits.
They said Hodge was also working on getting a fifth child admitted to an elite school — a charge his lawyers dispute.
“There is no parent sentenced to date who benefited more from Singer’s scheme than Doug Hodge,” Justin O’Connell, an assistant U.S. attorney, said.
The prosecutor was referring to Rick Singer, the admitted mastermind of the $25 million scheme who became a “cooperating witness” and wore a wire for the FBI to help ensnare Hodge and the others in an operation dubbed “Varsity Blues.”
O’Connell also noted that one year, during which Hodge reported $26 million in income, “he took a tax deduction off for his $200,000 bribe.”
“Hodge couldn’t even be bothered to pay his full bribe, passing off part of that bill to the American taxpayer,” O’Connell said.
Earlier, Hodge in a letter to the judge insisted he had never set out to deceive anyone and found himself unable to extricate himself from “Rick Singer’s schemes, with its quid pro quo payments and deceptions. “
Six more parents have pleaded guilty and await sentencing. Another 15 parents, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.