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Huneeus Agrees to Plead Guilty in Connection with College Admissions Scandal

by Kerana Todorov
April 09, 2019

Napa Valley vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr. agreed to plead guilty in connection with the college exam cheating scheme involving more than two-dozen wealthy parents nationwide, federal prosecutors said Monday in Boston.

Federal officials said 53-year-old Huneeus, a San Francisco resident, paid $300,000 in bribes in an effort to have a daughter admitted to the University of Southern California under the guise of a water polo player. The allegations against Huneeus included paying bribes to have a proctor correct his daughter’s SAT exam and have an athletic official and a coach admit her as a water polo player, according to court documents.

Altogether, about 50 people, including 30 parents, coaches and college exam administrators were arrested in March in connection with the scheme led by Newport Beach college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer.

On Monday, federal prosecutors said 13 parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, have agreed plead guilty to fraud. The parents took tax deductions for their bribe payments. They have agreed to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service and pay back taxes. A coach also has agreed to plead guilty, federal officials said Monday.

Under the agreement, Huneeus will plead guilty to mail fraud before the end of the month. That date was unclear. In exchange, federal prosecutors recommend that the Napa Valley vintner be sentenced to 15 months in prison and a year of supervisory release. Huneeus also has to pay a $95,000 fine and restitution under the plea agreement. He waives his right to appeal his conviction.

Huneeus risked 20 years behind bars without the plea, according to federal officials. He remains out of custody on $1 million bail.

Huneeus has decided to step aside from running Napa-based Huneeus Vintners, the company announced late last month. His father, Huneeus and Quintessa founder Agustin Huneeus Sr., was appointed to represent the family’s interest in Huneeus Vintners, a company representative said last month.

Singer, who collaborated with law enforcement, has agreed to plead guilty to multiple felonies.

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