The former president of a California real estate firm and his wife pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday for using their wealth to improperly get their children into prominent universities as part of the college admissions scandal.
Bruce Isackson, 62, and Davina Isackson, 55, are cooperating with the government in the case. They pleaded guilty in Boston to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Bruce Isackson also pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the IRS for taking a tax deduction for the bribe.
Authorities say the Isacksons agreed to pay William “Rick” Singer, the man central to the alleged scam, a total of $600,000 in stock value. In exchange for the payment, Singer helped get a fraudulent ACT exam score for one daughter and facilitated two daughters’ acceptance to UCLA and USC by falsely labeling them as recruited athletes.
The US Attorney’s Office will not be seeking any additional charges against the couple and recommended sentences at the low end of the guidelines. Prosecutors will suggest a sentence of 37-46 months in prison for Bruce Isackson and 27-33 months for Davina Isackson at their sentencing hearing July 31.
Isackson had been the president of WP Investments, a real estate firm in Woodside, California, according to a since-deleted version of the company’s website.
The Isacksons are among the 14 wealthy parents who have pleaded guilty in the sprawling admissions scam. Another 19 parents, including actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors have also issued subpoenas to other parents who were not charged in the original complaint or indictment, according to a law enforcement official. Prosecutors are looking for financial records and call logs for those parents, the official said.
Additionally, three students who have not been charged have received target letters from prosecutors, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Boston.
Lori Loughlin’s daughters have not been sent target letters related to the college admissions scandal, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.
In court Wednesday, prosecutors said Elizabeth Henriquez – a parent who has pleaded not guilty in connection with the scheme – told the Isacksons about Singer and made the introduction.
Both Isacksons waived their right to a grand jury indictment in court. They each spoke to answer procedural questions from the judge. Bruce Isackson wore a dark blue suit with his hands folded. As the judge read the charges against Davina Isackson, her attorney patted her on the back.
A dozen other parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, will also formally enter guilty pleas later this month.
What they did
In addition to using the college exam cheating scheme for one daughter, the Isacksons also considered doing so for another child before they were arrested, authorities said.
“I think we’ll definitely pay cash this time, and not, not – not run it through the other way,” Bruce Isackson told Singer in a recorded conversation, the complaint says.
Singer has pleaded guilty to leading the scheme and is cooperating with the government.
The criminal complaint states the Isacksons used Singer’s services to try to get their eldest daughter into USC as a women’s soccer player. Due to a “clerical error,” her application was sent into the regular admissions pool.
Months later, then-USC soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin, who is also charged in the scandal, forwarded their daughter’s soccer profile to the head coach of UCLA men’s soccer as a “soccer player/student manager.” She was then admitted to UCLA.
Afterward, Davina Isackson thanked Singer in an email and copied Bruce Isackson and the daughter on the email, the complaint states.
“I know it has been a rough ride but I thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for your persistence, creativity and commitment towards helping [our daughter],” she wrote.
The Isacksons also participated in the scam to boost their second daughter’s test scores and secure admittance into USC as a crew recruit, even though she did not row competitively, according to the complaint.
Authorities also say the Isacksons underpaid their federal income taxes by deducting the bribe payments as purported charitable contributions.
Correction: A previous version of this article story incorrectly said that a couple is accused of participating in the ACT exam cheating scheme for two daughters. Prosecutors said their alleged actions related to only one daughter.