Napa Valley vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr. to plead guilty in nationwide college admissions case
Napa valley vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr. agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges that he paid money to a college admissions counselor in an attempt to have his daughter admitted to the University of Southern California.
According to federal prosecutors, he and 13 other parent defendants will plead guilty to similar charges that they conspired with Newport college admissions adviser William Rick Singer, who has been cooperating with federal authorities, and paid large sums to him and his foundation to alter their children’s test scores and in some cases bribed athletics coaches at top schools.
Huneeus “will waive indictment and plead guilty to count one of the information charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud,” according to a plea agreement released by the office of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts where the cases are ongoing.
Huneeus’ attorney declined to comment on the case in an email from a Boston-based public relations agency.
Huneeus will not face other criminal charges in connection with the alleged scheme according to the plea agreement. Under sentencing guidelines, he could face up to 20 years in prison but prosecutors recommended a 15-month prison term, financial penalties of $95,000, and 12 months of supervised release.
Boston prosecutors previously alleged Huneeus worked with Singer to falsify one of his daughter’s SAT scores and then donated $50,000 to a fake charity Singer controlled which was then channeled to USC athletic officials to allow her admission as a water polo recruit.
Huneeus handed control of his Napa Valley winery to his father earlier this month, according to the Press Democrat.
Three other prominent North Bay parents are also facing charges in the case: 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.
The actress Felicity Huffman was also one of the parents who pleaded guilty Monday. Over 50 parents were charged in what the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office called the largest college admission scandal in history.