Casino operator sentenced to one year in prison in college admissions scandal case
A former casino executive was sentenced to a year in prison on Wednesday after he was found guilty last year of paying $300,000 in bribes to get his daughter admitted into the University of Southern California (USC).
Gamal Abdelaziz, who previously worked for both Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International as a top gaming executive, was also ordered to serve 400 hours of community service and pay a $250,000 fine, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The sentencing is the latest development in the federal investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, which involves dozens of wealthy individuals who bribed university officials to facilitate fraudulent test schools or phony athletic credentials for admittance into elite schools.
Well-known celebrities were implicated in the scandal, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman.
William “Rick” Singer, who is thought to be at the center of the scandal as the head of the Edge College & Career Network, pled guilty in 2019 to racketeering and money laundering charges.
According to the DOJ, Abdelaziz was sentenced to the longest prison term yet in the admissions scandal. The former casino executive was convicted by a federal jury in October for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.
The jury found Abdelaziz guilty of paying $300,000 to Singer to help his daughter get into USC as a purported basketball recruit. His daughter did not play basketball in her junior or senior year of high school, according to a press release from the DOJ.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said Abdelaziz showed “a lack of integrity, morality and common sense,” according to Reuters.
“It boggles the mind, and yet you did just that,” Gorton said. “In doing so, in essence you stole an admission spot at a good college from a deserving student who did not have all your advantages.”
Abdelaziz’s attorney said he plans to appeal the sentencing decision, Reuters reported.
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