Former UCLA soccer coach to plead guilty in Varsity Blues college admissions scandal

Former UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo has agreed to plead guilty to accepting $200,000 in bribes in the massive “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal and is expected to be sentenced to up to 30 months in federal prison, authorities said.

Salcedo, 47, a one-time professional soccer player for the Los Angeles Galaxy, signed the plea agreement with federal prosecutors on Sunday. The plea deal was unsealed on Tuesday in Boston federal court.

Salcedo was one of several athletic coaches at universities across the country to be ensnared in the largest college cheating scandal ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The scandal also led to charges against more than 50 people, including 35 wealthy parents who prosecutors say paid bribes to get their children into elite U.S. colleges.

Among those indicted were actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are among those still fighting charges. They have pleaded innocent have denied all wrongdoing.

Huffman pleaded guilty and served 11 days of a 14-day prison sentence.

Salcedo, the married father of four children, agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to commit racketeering, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, the government will recommend a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines of 24 to 30 months in prison and a year of supervised release. Salcedo must also pay a fine as well as restitution, plus forfeit about $200,000, which is equal to the amount of bribes he allegedly took, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss two other charges against Salcedo, conspiring to commit fraud and bribery, as part of the agreement.

A sentencing date for Salcedo has yet to be scheduled.

Federal prosecutors allege that in 2016, Salcedo helped William “Rick” Singer, the college admissions consultant who allegedly masterminded the college entrance scam, to ensure that the daughter of wealthy Bay Area couple Davina and Bruce Isackson was admitted to UCLA by forwarding the girl’s fabricated soccer credentials to his colleagues on the school’s women’s soccer team, according to the indictment unsealed in March 2019. For his role in the deal, Salcedo received $100,000 of the $250,000 the Isacksons paid Singer, prosecutors allege.

Salcedo also allegedly accepted a bribe paid by Xiaoning Sui, a wealthy Canadian woman, to “recruit” her son to the UCLA men’s soccer team, despite the boy never having played competitive soccer, according to the indictment. Sui paid Singer $400,000 of which $100,000 allegedly went to Salcedo, according to the indictment.

Singer, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty last year to fraud and conspiracy charges and has been cooperating with federal investigators, prosecutors said. He has yet to be sentenced.

Sui, of Vancouver, pleaded guilty in February to one count of federal programs bribery and is awaiting a sentencing date, tentatively scheduled for May 18.

Bruce Isackson, of Hillsborough, California, pleaded guilty in May 2019 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States. His wife, Davina, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Their sentencing date has been tentatively set for Jan. 21.

Salcedo, a graduate of UCLA, coached the UCLA men’s soccer program for 15 seasons, compiling an overall record of 172-80-42 and leading the Bruins to four Pac-12 titles and an appearance in the 2014 NCAA Championship game in which the team lost to the University of Virginia.

He resigned in 2019 shortly after being indicted.

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