Douglas Hodge, the former Pimco chief executive described by US prosecutors as “among the most culpable parents” in a university admissions cheating scandal, was sentenced on Friday to nine months in jail.
The sentence — which included a $750,000 fine — is the longest handed down since prosecutors charged 35 affluent parents a year ago of collectively paying some $25m in bribes to secure admission for their children at sought-after US universities.
The bribes were funnelled through William “Rick” Singer, an admissions counsellor who doctored test results for some applicants and opened what he called a “side door” for others by portraying them as prized athletics recruits.
Singer, who passed some of the money to corrupt athletics coaches and test proctors, has pleaded guilty and has been co-operating with authorities.
Hodge led Pimco, one of the world’s largest asset managers, from 2014 to 2016. He was regarded by prosecutors as one of the worst offenders in the admissions scandal because he used Singer’s services for four of his children, paying $850,000 over more than a decade.
In court papers, US prosecutors described him and three other parents sentenced on Friday as undertaking the scheme “from perches at the apex of money and power in the United States”.
Two of Hodge’s children attended Georgetown, where one daughter was admitted as a tennis recruit but never actually joined the team. She also purported in her application to have built a tennis court in the jungles of Cambodia, according to court filings.
Two others went to the University of Southern California, also as fake athletics recruits. In one case, Singer created a bogus profile describing one of Hodge’s daughters as the co-captain of a Japanese national soccer team.
Hodge initially fought the charges but pleaded guilty in October to mail and wire fraud and money laundering in association with the case. At the time, he apologised “to deserving college students who may have been adversely impacted” and said he had acted out of “love for my children”.
In a letter to the judge ahead of Friday’s sentencing, Hodge described himself as a philanthropist who was eager to help the universities and believed that his donations — while also benefiting his children — would do genuine good. “I did not set out to bribe or deceive anyone,” he wrote.
Prosecutors countered that Hodge had been slow to change his plea, and that he had also sought to use Singer’s services for a fifth child. They had sought a 24-month sentence.
Hodge’s sentence could serve as a guideline for a handful of other parents who are still fighting the charges. Among the most prominent are Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli and Bill McGlashan, the former head of private equity group TPG’s social impact investment fund.