San Diego

San Diego Parent Becomes 14th to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scam

MacFarlane was charged with paying bribes to get his children admitted to USC as fake athletic recruits

A former insurance executive from San Diego is the 14th parent to plead guilty to participating in the nationwide college admissions bribery scheme.

Toby MacFarlane, a former senior executive at a title insurance company from Del Mar, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Prosecutors said MacFarlane paid $450,000 to get his children admitted to the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits. 

The charges could have resulted in a maximum 20 year sentence for MacFarlane but, per the plea agreement, prosecutors will seek a 15-month sentence with a year of supervised release and a $95,000 fine. 

The complaint against MacFarlane alleged that he paid $200,000 to facilitate his daughter’s acceptance by USC, and $250,000 to secure his son’s admission to the private university.

According to the complaint, MacFarlane’s daughter graduated from USC in 2018 without playing soccer for the university. MacFarlane’s son was admitted to USC as a student athlete in 2017 and withdrew in May 2018 without playing basketball for the university.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said the conspiracy between MacFarlane and a University of Southern California assistant women's soccer coach, Laura Janke, back as far as October 2013. Singer emailed MacFarlane's daughter's high school transcript and college exam scores to Janke and another defendant. 

MacFarlane then created a purported charitable organization he established, the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), to wire $50,000 to a private soccer club controlled by Janke and the other defendant, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Then, a fake athlete profile was created. 

Three years later, Singer directed Janke to create a falsified basketball profile for MacFarlane’s son, prosecutors said. 

MacFarlane was among 33 prominent parents charged in the case. Thirteen other parents have already agreed to plead guilty, including "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman.

Among the parents fighting the charges are "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

The federal indictment alleges the accused aimed to facilitate students getting into high-profile D-1 schools, including Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, Yale, University of Texas, University of San Diego, University of Southern California and Wake Forest as recruited athletes regardless of their athletic ability.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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