California Couple Diane Blake and Todd Blake in College Admissions Case Pleads Guilty

(STL.News) – A California couple pleaded guilty today to conspiracy charges in connection with agreeing to pay $250,000 to secure the fraudulent admission of their daughter to the University of Southern California (USC) as a purported athletic recruit.

Diane Blake, 55, and Todd Blake, 54, both of Ross, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud.  Todd Blake also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Nov. 17, 2020.

Beginning in 2017, the Blakes conspired with William “Rick” Singer and others to facilitate their daughter’s admission to USC as a purported athletic recruit.  Specifically, Singer had an athletic profile of their daughter created and sent to the USC athletic admissions committee, allegedly through co-conspirator Donna Heinel, then a USC athletics administrator.  As a result, their daughter was allocated an athlete admission spot even though she was not actually recruited and did not play on the USC women’s volleyball team. The Blakes paid $50,000 to USC women’s athletics and $200,000 to Singer’s non-profit charity, The Key Worldwide Foundation, as a quid pro quo for the admission spot.  The Blakes concealed this deal from USC personnel.

Under the terms of Diane Blake’s plea agreement, the parties have agreed to a sentence, subject to the Court’s approval, of six weeks in prison, a $125,000 fine and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service.  Under the terms of Todd Blake’s plea agreement, the parties have agreed to a sentence, subject to the Court’s approval, of four months in prison, a $125,000 fine and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service.

Diane and Todd Blake are the 27th and 28th parents to plead guilty in the college admissions case.

The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud provides for a sentence of up 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.  The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 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.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston made the announcement today.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright, Kristen A. Kearney, Karin M. Bell and Stephen E. Frank of Lelling’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The remaining defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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