Spanish authorities have arrested a Chinese woman in connection with her role in using bribery and other forms of fraud to ensure her son’s admission to UCLA as a purported soccer recruit, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Xiaoning Sui, 48, of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, was arrested late Monday and charged in an indictment unsealed in federal court in Boston with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Sui is currently detained in Spain, and authorities will seek her extradition to Boston to face charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
She is the 52nd defendant arrested and charged in the nationwide college admissions case, prosecutors said.
According to the indictment, Sui agreed with Newport Beach businessman William “Rick” Singer to pay $400,000 to facilitate her son’s admission to UCLA as a top soccer recruit. Prosecutors allege that during a phone call in August 2018, Singer explained that Sui’s son could be guaranteed admission to UCLA in exchange for the cash.
Between August and October 2018, Sui allegedly provided Singer with her son’s transcript and photographs of her son playing tennis. Co-conspirator Laura Janke then fabricated a soccer profile for Sui’s son, which described him as a top player for two private soccer clubs in Canada, prosecutors in Boston allege.
On Oct. 24, Singer instructed Sui to wire Singer $100,000 which would be “paid to the coach at UCLA” in exchange for a letter of intent from the UCLA soccer coach, the indictment alleges.
Two days later, Sui allegedly wired the money to a bank account in Massachusetts in the name of Singer’s sham charitable organization, the Key Worldwide Foundation. Prosecutors contend that on Nov. 5, UCLA admitted Sui’s son as a recruited soccer player, and awarded him a 25% scholarship. In February, Sui allegedly wired an additional $300,000 to the KWF account as final payment for her son’s fraudulent admission to UCLA, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Janke previously pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government’s investigation.
The charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud provides for a maximum of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday in Boston to 14 days behind bars for her role in the bribery scheme. The “Desperate Housewives” actress was also ordered to serve a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and pay a fine of $30,000. Huffman pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying a $15,000 bribe to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers on a college-entrance exam.
Dozens of parents and college athletic coaches were implicated in the scheme, in which wealthy parents paid Singer thousands of dollars to have their children’s entrance-exam scores doctored. In other cases, students were falsely admitted to elite universities as athletic recruits, even though they never had any experience in the sports for which they were being recruited, prosecutors said.
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