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Federal Bribery College Scheme Uncovered: A Tough Defense

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Apr 19, 2019

When it comes to bribery as indicated in general, usually the feds get involved when someone is offering money, services, goods or something in order to effectuate something that is illegal.  In the most recent case where these actors or other people are paying extra money in order to get their children into colleges, that falls under the umbrella of bribery, which is now commonly known as the “college admissions bribery scandal.”

Basically, what they're doing is they're trying to give money to get their child in a position to get into a college ahead of everybody else — or even sometimes they're giving money so the tests can be altered or they can deal with the admissions people.  This really affects the public in general and also is a scheme that would be considered a federal crime of bribery in Los Angeles or in any city in the nation because of the fact that it touches interstate commerce.

Federal Charges

It touches the federal system.  It touches colleges, which a lot of times there's aid from the federal government.  So, this is right up the federal government's alley to be involved in any type of a scheme where individuals are basically bribing through other people or directly in order to get their child in a position to get into a college ahead of everybody else.

A lot of people don't understand when the federal government gets involved.  This is a perfect example of when the federal government would get involved — is when you're fooling around with colleges and you're fooling around with our system.  We have one of the greatest governments in the world — one of the greatest college systems in the world.  So, obviously, if people are going to tamper with that, pay money and try to get ahead of other people, then they're going to be severely punished for that.

Factors that Determine Federal Prison Time

The people who are charged in this college bribery scheme are looking at real federal prison time.  There are a lot of factors that are involved as to whether they actually get any prison time.  Probably, in my opinion, one of the biggest ones is which judge they get.  Some of the judges, especially in Los Angeles county – the Central District – are very tough when it comes to crime and they will make an example out of these particular individuals who are involved in this college bribery scheme.

We also need to know the details of their case to really get a good feel for what they're up against in the defense of their case.  In other words, is it a situation where they put $10,000 or $15,000 versus some of these other cases where it's a half a million dollars and what exactly did the person who got them into the colleges do?  Did they bribe a school official?

Did the people bribe the school officials directly?  What do they do about the tests?  Are they altering tests or do they just help them get in?  Either way, it's a bribery scheme.  It's fraudulent.  It strikes at the very core of our educational system.

Those poor people who are trying to get into colleges and struggling and fighting and working, and then someone is able to just come in and pay money and skip ahead of them — is obviously extremely unfair and the federal government is going to deal with these people in a very harsh manner.

In my opinion, they're not just going to give them a little slap on the wrist.  They're looking at a federal felony and potential custody time at 85%.  This is a federal bribery scheme and something the feds take very seriously.

Defenses for a Federal Bribery Scam Involving Colleges

One defense that can be used in this latest case where a bunch of parents have been arrested in the Central District and in other bribery-related federal offenses is that:  I've paid somebody money to help my child get into school.  I didn't tell them to do anything illegal.  I didn't tell them to pay anybody in the school that I was trying to get into.  I simply gave them money so that they could help my child get into the school.

As long as the person believed or reasonably should have believed that the individual was going to legitimately help them get into the school versus paying somebody money to let them cut corner or get over better-qualified candidates, then you possibly will have a defense in one of these college bribery-related cases, but you have to believe that whatever money you are giving was money for the person and that person was going to legitimately help you get into the school.

So, obviously, when someone is paying $500,000 to make the argument that it's legitimate, is idiotic, but if somebody was paying $10,000 to $15,000 on the other hand for another person to help them get into a particular school, that might be legitimate.

There's nothing wrong with that, especially if that person had good SAT or ACT scores, then college federal bribery would not be as much of a problem as it was versus a situation where someone actually knows if the person is either going to fix the test for the other person or is actually going to pay money to an admissions person at a college in order for them to skip over other better-qualified candidates for the particular college.  So, this circumstance would be federal bribery.

Contact our Law Firm for Help

But there are potential defenses to this particular crime and I'm sure the attorneys who are representing those accused in the Central District of Los Angeles cases are going to utilize those defenses to the full extent. So, if you have one of these cases, pick up the phone and call me our criminal defense attorneys and we can discuss it immediately in private under the cloak of the attorney/client privilege.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.