Former Casino Boss Faces the Jury on Fraud Scheme Charges

Former Wynn Macau Limited Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder John Wilson secured spots for their kids fraudulently at USC, the University of Southern California as ‘phony’ athletic recruits.

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Former Wynn Macau Limited Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder John Wilson secured spots for their kids fraudulently at USC, the University of Southern California as ‘phony’ athletic recruits. Leslie Wright, a public attorney, explained to the Jury on Monday that the two businessmen paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure the said spots. The case is dubbed, ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ admissions scandal.

Wright further clarified that the entire sandal was masterminded by the college admissions consultant, William Singer, ‘Nick.’ She said Singer made it easier for the affluent clients to fraud their kids through the varsity backdoors.

In her opening statement, Wright noted that “It was a sprawling conspiracy that extended from coast to coast…None of these kids was getting recruited to play collegiate sports without the money.”

Not Bribe but Charity Donations

Defense lawyers allured that their clients didn’t commit fraud and that that money was sent to the university in good faith as legitimate donations. Brian Kelly, Gamal’s lawyer, told the jury that “Giving money to a school with a hope that it gets your kid in is not a crime.”

The trial starts after the two businessmen charged two and a half years ago, and several other wealthy classes tried to bribe their children in elite US institutions. The act is featured as the most significant contributor to inequality in US higher education.

Since 2019, 57 parents have been charged in a similar scandal, even famous artists like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. At least 36 parents have already pleaded guilty and sentenced.
The prosecutor condemned the actions of William, who provided a ‘side door’ for the rich whose children are unable to get legitimate spots in higher institutions through his college counseling business, The Key.

William had since pleaded guilty to the 2019 charges. He accepted the charges of facilitating cheating on college. He admitted to accepting bribes from parents and admitting students as fake athletic recruits.

Aziz Paid $300,000 Bribe

Leslie Wright, the US attorney, indicated in her opening statement that Gamal Aziz, 62, in 2018 agreed to pay a sum of $300,000 as a bribe to an admission officer in aid of admitting his daughter to the University of Southern California.

‘Wilson, 64,’ she also noted, he paid a bribe of $220,000 in 2014, aiding his son’s entry to USC as a water polo recruit. After Nick Singer agreed to help with the investigations, the prosecutor further stated that Wilson sought to pay $1.5 to admission his two daughters to Harvard and Stanford Universities.

Michael Kendall, Wilson’s advocate, defended his client’s son claiming he was not a fake water polo recruit but a real one. He claimed that the Singer was a con, and his client simply fell victim.

“That con man knows how to play people better than anyone in this courtroom,” Michael said. He added that his client trusted him after being referred to him by a financial adviser at Goldman Sachs.

The prosecution will not call the witness to stand but will only rely on his secret recordings made through the FBI on the defendants. He is now a government cooperating witness in the case.

“They’ve had two and a half years to decide whether to call this guy… He’s their key guy. We should know.” Said Kelly after the August 17th prosecution brief where they were yet to decide whether to call Singer. The defense advocates are, however, questioning Singer’s credibility and claim he is a con.

Most witnesses like Bruce Isackson pleaded guilty to the bribery charges. In defense to the jury, the first witness, Isackson, testified that he knew Singer’s system was not straight, but “He made it clear there was one way to get into school, and that was his way.”