A California father admitted in court Friday that he paid $450,000 in bribes and used phony athletic profiles to get his 5-foot-5-inch son into the University of Southern California as a 6-foot-1 basketball recruit and his daughter into the school by claiming she was a top-flight soccer player.
Toby MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud before U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston. He is the last of 14 parents to plead guilty in a college-admissions cheating scandal that the U.S. government unveiled in March.
MacFarlane told the judge that he committed fraud “by getting my children admission to USC as recruited athletes when in fact they’re not.”
To get his children enrolled, MacFarlane said he conspired with William Rick Singer, the mastermind of the nationwide scam. He paid Singer $200,000 in 2013 to fabricate a profile for his daughter, claiming she was a “U.S. Club Soccer All American” in high school. The young woman graduated from USC in 2018 but never played for the university’s team, prosecutors said.
In 2016, MacFarlane paid $250,000 to gain admission for his son, who only attended USC briefly before withdrawing in May 2018, according to the U.S. The dad claimed $200,000 was for “real estate consulting,” according to the government, while the $50,000 payment went to “USC athletics.”
MacFarlane, a former senior executive at a title insurance company, faces as long as 15 months in prison and a fine of $95,000. Restitution will be determined at a later date.
While 14 parents have admitted they broke the law, 19 are fighting the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston. Prosecutors also are pursuing cases against more than a dozen other people, including college coaches and test administrators, who traded bribes for spots at some of the country’s top colleges.
Singer is among those who has pleaded guilty, and he agreed to secretly record his clients for the FBI.