Ex-USC dentistry professor gets six weeks prison in U.S. college admissions scandal

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) – A former University of Southern California associate professor of dentistry was sentenced on Wednesday to six weeks in prison for filing a false tax return related to the sprawling U.S. college admissions fraud scheme.

Homayoun Zadeh, 60, had been charged by federal prosecutors in Boston with agreeing to pay $100,000 to help his daughter get into USC and falsely representing on a 2017 tax return that some of that money legitimately went to a charity.

Prosecutors said that charity was actually run by the scheme’s mastermind, California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, and the money was used for bribery to help Zadeh’s daughter gain admission to USC as a fake lacrosse player.

“Why on earth would you do that for your daughter?” U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton told Zadeh. “It boggles the mind.”

Zadeh, who pleaded guilty in July, told the judge before being sentenced: “I am deeply sorry.”

Zadeh is among the 57 people charged in the “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation, which ensnared business executives and celebrities and exposed inequalities in U.S. higher education.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and helping bribe coaches and athletic officials to secure the admission of children as phony athletes.

Forty-eight people in total have agreed to plead guilty, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Two parents were recently convicted at trial.

Prosecutors said Zadeh had paid $65,000 toward the $100,000 by the time he was charged in 2019. He deducted $40,000 from his federal income taxes, allowing him to inflate his tax refund.

Gorton had threatened to reject Zadeh’s plea agreement, which called for the six weeks in prison plus a $20,000 fine, citing an apparent lack of acceptance of responsibility.

The judge relented after Zadeh’s lawyer withdrew objections to a probation department report. Zadeh must also pay $8,400 in restitution to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio)


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