Four prominent North Bay parents appeared in Boston Federal court Friday, accused of fraud and buying their children’s way into elite colleges.
Among those who appeared in court in Boston Friday were Agustin Huneeus Jr., president of Napa Valley’s Huneeus Vintners; Bill McGlashan, a Mill Valley resident and former top investor at the private equity firm TPG Capital in San Francisco; and Todd and Diane Blake, of Ross in Marin County.
They are among 50 people indicted in a college admissions scandal. Announced by the Boston U.S. attorney’s office, the indictment accused defendants of acting in concert with Newport college admissions adviser William Rick Singer, owner of The Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key, and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation.
Singer, who pled guilty and has been cooperating with federal authorities, allegedly directed the defendants to pay large cash sums to him using his companies as intermediaries in exchange for his help getting their children into top schools by paying off athletic coaches and altering test scores.
The scheme implicated Yale, University of Southern California, University of San Diego, Stanford, UCLA, Wake Forest, Georgetown, the University of Texas at Austin and others, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
All four defendants appeared before Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley throughout the day according to court documents. The judge advised the defendants of their rights and ensured they understood them as well as the pending charges, according to court dockets. Government lawyers then stated the charges and the maximum penalties under law for each defendant.
In a memorandum in support of his client, McGlashan’s attorney Jack W. Pirozzolo of Sidley Austin LLP in Boston unsuccessfully asked the judge to allow McGlashan, who has posted bail and surrendered his passport, to travel internationally for a previously planned family trip.
McGlashan is accused of paying bribes to get his son into USC as a recruit for the college’s storied football team, even though his son didn’t play football and his high school didn’t field a team.
“Although the single count with which Mr. McGlashan is charged is serious, the allegations against him are different than those in many of the related cases,” Pirozzolo wrote of the fraud charges leveled again McGlashan and the other defendants in the case.
He went on to deny that McGlashan’s 18-year-old son who attends the private Marin Academy High School ever attended a university based on his alleged payment of $50,000 to Singer.
“McGlashan’s son has not even graduated high school, and he withdrew his college applications,” he wrote.
McGlashan stepped down or was fired from his company in March in light of the charges according to media reports.
Attorneys for the Blakes and Huneeus, who are also facing criminal fraud charges, did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Associated Press contributed to this report.