College admissions scandal: Ex-UCLA soccer coach pleads guilty to taking $200K in bribes

BOSTON — Jorge Salcedo, a longtime former men’s soccer coach at the University of California, Los Angles, agreed on Tuesday to plead guilty to racketeering charges in the nation’s college admissions scandal after maintaining his innocence for more than a year.

Salcedo, head soccer coach at UCLA from 2004 to 2019, will become the 33rd parent to plead guilty in court and forego trial in the sprawling nationwide “Varsity Blues” admissions scheme. A plea hearing date has not been set. 

In a deal with federal prosecutors, Salcedo agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering for accepting $200,000 in bribes to facilitate the admission of two students into UCLA as fake soccer recruits.  

Prosecutors recommended Salcedo, 47, receive a sentence at the “low end” of sentencing guidelines that range from 24 to 30 months in prison, one year of supervised release, forfeiture totaling $200,000, an unspecified amount of restitution and a fine. 

Former UCLA men's soccer coach Jorge Salcedo agreed Tuesday to plead guilty for accepting $200,000 in bribes in the nation's college admissions scandal.

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Prosecutors said Salcedo in 2016 agreed with the scheme’s mastermind Rick Singer, as well as Ali Khosroshahin, a former head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Southern California, and other co-conspirators to designate the daughter of Davina and Bruce Isackson as a soccer recruit to get her accepted into UCLA.

In exchange, prosecutors said Salcedo received $100,000 of a $250,000 payment the Isacksons made to Singer.

Singer, Khosroshahin and the Isacksons each pleaded guilty to charges last year and have been cooperating with prosecutors. Each are awaiting their sentencing. 

Two years later, prosecutors said Salcedo in 2018 agreed with Singer and Khosroshahin to “recruit” the son of Xiaoning Sui, another client of Singer’s, to the UCLA men’s soccer team even though Sui’s son did not play soccer competitively. In exchange, Salcedo accepted a $100,000 bribe from Singer out of a $400,00 payment Sui made to Singer.

Sui, a Chinese national and resident of Surrey, British Columbia, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in February after spending more than five months in a Spanish prison amid a slow U.S. extradition process following her Sept. 17 arrest while on vacation Madrid. 

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Salcedo resigned from UCLA after being indicted in March 2019. Prior to coaching, Salcedo played soccer professionally in both the Mexican Soccer League and Major League Soccer. As a college athlete, he played for UCLA from 1990 to 1993 and was a part of three NCCA championship teams.

Salcedo’s guilty plea leaves just three former college coaches – former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, former Wake Forest volleyball coach William Ferguson and former USC polo coach Jovan Vavi – still fighting charges in the admissions case.

Also fighting charges as alleged co-conspirators of Singer are: Donna Heinel, a former USC athletic department official, Niki Williams, a former test administrator, and Mikaela Sanford,  a former employee of Singer.

Trial dates for the six defendants have not been set. A separate group of 14 parents, including actress Lori Loughlin, are scheduled to go to trial in two phases beginning in October.

More:Judge calls alleged investigator misconduct in Lori Loughlin case ‘serious and disturbing’

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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