Former USC Soccer Coach Pleads Guilty, Will Cooperate In College Admission Scandal

A University of Southern California assistant women’s soccer coach embroiled in the college admissions scandal will plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors, according to the Wall Street Journal. Former coach Laura Janke will plead to one count of racketeering conspiracy by May 30 and, as a result, will forfeit $134,000 and likely receive the "low end" of potential jail time. She has also reportedly agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case, according to plea and cooperation agreements filed in court.

The maximum sentence she was facing was 20 years, but it is likely she will now get 27 to 33 months as a result of the plea. She'll also be on supervised release for a term of 12 months. Janke must also pay any tax penalties related to payments she received. The length of her prison sentence is still going to be determined on how cooperative she is going to be as a witness, prosecutors said. 

Janke

Another parent who worked with Janke also accepted a plea deal recently: Toby MacFarlane, a parent charged in the case, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. MacFarlane had already telegraphed his intent earlier this month to enter into plea discussions.

MacFarlane paid $450,000 to have his children admitted to USC as recruited athletes and, working with Janke, helped create fake profiles for the children. Janke then built profiles for both of MacFarlane's kids: one for his daughter in 2013 claiming she was a soccer star and another in 2017 for his son, claiming he was a basketball player. Both children eventually wound up going to USC.

Janke was one of four USC officials charged in the case. Prosecutors say she created profiles for a number of William Rick Singer's clients, stocking them with fake honors for their respective sports. 

In another example, Janke helped fabricate a bogus athletic profile for the son of media executive Elisabeth Kimmel as an elite pole vaulter, despite him having no record of ever pole vaulting. Janke even used a photo of another individual pole vaulting as part of the submission, prosecutors say. Kimmel has plead not guilty to charges of mail fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

Kimmel

Janke's guilty plea stands in contrast with our latest update on the scandal, where we noted that some parents had decided to "punch back" and vigorously defend themselves in court. 

“I expect a lot more guilty pleas,” Diane Ferrone, a criminal defense lawyer in New York who isn’t involved in the case, told Bloomberg about a week ago. 

16 parents were recently indicted in the scandal about 2 weeks ago. Several weeks before that, we noted that parents charged in the scheme were seeking out "prison life consultants" to find out what life would be like in the big house.

We have been following the admissions scandal at length. As part of our coverage, we detailed how financial speaking gigs and elite high schools helped facilitate the scam for years. We've also covered the fallout from the scandal, like when UCLA's Men's Soccer Coach and former U.S. Men's national team player Jorge Salcedo recently resigned from his position at the university as a result of taking bribes. We also wrote about how students were being encouraged to fake learning disabilities in order to cheat on college entrance exams. 

We profiled Harvard test taking whiz Marc Riddell, who was a key piece of the scam, in March. Prior to that, we also reported on the tipster who gave the SEC the lead on the admissions scandal.