Thu. May 19th, 2022

Some parents were accused of having paid bribes to get children to elite universities.

On Friday afternoon, a guilty verdict came in the trial against John Wilson and Gamal Abdelaziz, two wealthy fathers accused of paying bribes to secure prestigious university places for their children under false pretenses.

Wilson and Abdelaziz were the first defendants among about five dozen who stood trial in Boston for charges stemming from the comprehensive Operation Varsity Blues scheme.

They pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and bribery in the case.

Abdelaziz, a former Las Vegas casino manager, reportedly paid $ 300,000 to get his daughter into the University of Southern California as a basketball recruiter, even though she did not attend high school.

Wilson, a former director of Staples, reportedly paid $ 220,000 to have his son named a USC water polo recruit and gave an additional $ 1 million to get his twin daughters into Harvard and Stanford.

While the two men argued that they thought their payments to Planner Rick Singer were legitimate donations, the jury agreed with prosecutors that they amounted to bribes to buy their children into these schools.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Frank told jurors during closing arguments: “These parents were not willing to take ‘no’ for an answer, and to get to ‘yes’ they crossed a line. By crossing that line, they broke the law.”

Jurors debated for nearly 11 hours over two days. Abdelaziz will be convicted on February 16 and Wilson on February 17.

The trial included audio recordings of phone calls between Singer, who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the investigation, and each of the men. Prosecutors argued that the calls showed that the fathers understood that they were participating in a scheme.

On a phone call where Abdelaziz is heard saying, “Sabrina loves USC!” Singer also hears say, “I do not want to tell the IRS that your $ 300,000 was paid to Donna Heinel at USC to get Sabrina into school, even though she was not a legitimate basketball player at that level.”

“It’s ok with you?” Asked Singer.

“Of course,” Abdelaziz replied.

“I would say your $ 300,000 payment was made to our fund to help minor children,” Singer said. “I just want to make sure you’re okay with it.”

“It’s me,” Abdelaziz replied.

Three other parents are expected to face trials in January, and three coaches are scheduled for trails in November.

Four dozen other defendants, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, chose to plead guilty, and many have already served their sentences.

ABC News’ Kate Hodgson contributed to this report.

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