By Mollie Hersh
BU News Service
BOSTON — A California businessman was sentenced to two months in prison and a $250,000 fine Wednesday in federal court for his involvement in the college admissions scandal.
Jeffrey Bizzack, who turned himself in to federal authorities in June, is the twelfth parent sentenced for participating in the admissions scam, known as Operation Varsity Blues. He pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud.
Bizzack confessed to paying $250,000 dollars to secure his son’s admission at USC, sending $50,000 to USC’s Galen Center and $200,000 to William “Rick” Singer, prosecutors said.
Singer secured admission by bribing USC athletics administrator Donna Heinel, who also oversaw the Galen Center account, and using falsified documents that allegedly claimed Bizzack’s son was a nationally ranked volleyball player.
Through an attorney, Bizzack contacted federal authorities willingly and confessed to conspiring with Singer after other involved parents were arrested.
Bizzack’s defense team argued Wednesday he deserved a lighter sentence, one month imprisonment, because he exhibited remorse for his actions and fully cooperated with authorities.
“He has lived with extreme shame over this,” said defense attorney Katherine Corrigan. “There’s already been a huge price to pay for him.”
In a brief statement during his sentencing, Bizzack expressed regret for his actions and apologized to those affected.
“I own the responsibility of what has happened here,” Bizzack said. “It was completely reckless and wrong.”
Bizzack also apologized to his son Wednesday and reaffirmed that his son had no involvement in the scheme.
“I spent my life guiding him, protecting him, teaching him,” Bizzack said. “He’s a smart, honest young man who didn’t want this.”
Without supportable evidence of gains and losses, characterization became a significant factor in U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock’s official ruling. He considered it a matter of class, describing the crime as “sneaky, conspicuous consumption” amongst privileged individuals.
Woodlock also said he believes Bizzack was “a good person who did a very bad thing.”
Prosecution agreed that Bizzack deserved some credit for his acceptance and cooperation. However, they argued this did not excuse his action, citing his quick agreement with Singer compared to other accused parents, as well as a phone call with Singer to get his story straight.
“There wasn’t a slow wearing away of where the moral line was. The defendant crossed it right away,” prosecutor Kristen Kearny said.
Bizzack was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, mandatory mental health treatment and 300 hours of community service. Bizzack said he has already been attending therapy and volunteers at a food bank.
Bizzack was previously an executive at the World Surf League and had a close business partnership with surfer Kelly Slater, but has since resigned.
Bizzack and his defense team declined to comment after the sentencing.