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As college admissions trial begins, parents claim they were duped

The government said Monday it did not intend to put Mr. Singer, who pleaded guilty to racketeering, to the witness stand, but that the jury would hear his words on tape and in emails. The defense foreshadowed that it would attempt to show that Mr Singer had been coerced by the government into portraying certain parents as criminals, even though he did not really believe it.

Defense attorneys attempted to turn their wealthy clients into people the jury could relate to. Mr. Kelly pointed to Mr. Abdelaziz’s wife, who was seated in the audience. (Almost everyone in the courtroom wore masks.)

Mr Wilson, who runs a private equity firm, never knew his biological father, according to his lawyer, Michael Kendall, and his mother raised him in a housing project after she got pregnant from him at the adolescence. Inspired by his own struggle growing up, Mr. Wilson used to give millions of dollars to educational causes, Mr. Kendall said.

Mr. Singer has cultivated a personal relationship with the Wilson family, Mr. Kendall said. “For three years he came to the Wilson House regularly,” Mr. Kendall said, giving his son advice on tutors, writing coaches and sports. Mr Singer knew that Mr Wilson, whom his lawyer described as “the kid of the projects”, would be “generous and trust his advice”.

Prosecutors say Mr Wilson paid $ 220,000 to have his son, Johnny, named as a water polo rookie. He was admitted to USC but “red-shirt” from the start, meaning he was one of the many players who couldn’t play, Wilson’s lawyer said in his report. opening statement. He left the team after a semester.

Mr Abdelaziz, a former casino executive, had previously hired Mr Singer for a fee of $ 5,000 – more typical of admissions consultants – to train his son, Adam, to enter college, Mr Kelly said . After Adam’s admission to Columbia, the university’s development office contacted Mr. Abdelaziz for a donation, and he gave $ 200,000, Kelly said.

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