Posted on: June 29, 2023, 06:57h.
Last updated on: June 30, 2023, 09:14h.
Federal prosecutors have dropped all charges against Gamal Abdelaziz, the former MGM and Wynn senior executive caught up in the “Varsity Blues” scandal.
Egyptian-born Abdelaziz, also known as Gamal Aziz, was sentenced to 13 months in a federal prison in February 2022. That was after he was convicted of paying $300K to corrupt admissions consultant William Singer to get his unqualified daughter into USC as a basketball recruit.
Abdelaziz and private equity executive John Wilson were the only two of 33 defendants in the sprawling fraud case to go to trial.
They argued they believed their payments were legitimate donations to the schools and that they were victims of Singer, who cooperated with federal prosecutors and testified against Abdelaziz and Wilson.
Other parents involved, including “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, were quick to plead guilty and received sentences ranging from home confinement to nine months in prison.
Abdelaziz and Wilson saw their convictions quashed in May by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, although appellate judges upheld Wilson’s conviction of filing a false tax return.
The judges wrote that the trial judge had mistakenly instructed jurors that college admissions constituted “property” that could be “stolen.”
They also determined prosecutors had failed to prove the defendants had agreed to join Singer’s wider conspiracy. This created a “significant risk” the two men had been convicted based on conduct other than their own.
In a filing to the US District Court in Boston on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said they won’t challenge the dismissed charges and requested that the court schedule a date for the resentencing of Wilson on the tax charge.
The filing brings to an end a scandal that highlighted how wealthy parents could grease the skids on their kids’ entry into top universities through generous “donations,” which in this case, were misappropriated by Singer and corrupt school officials.
Singer admitted to bribing coaches and administrators to nominate the unqualified children of well-heeled parents as elite recruited athletes. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in January on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and conspiring to defraud the United States.
Abdelaziz joined Wynn Resorts from Caesars Palace in 1998 to help launch the Bellagio. He was later president and COO of the MGM Grand, and then president and COO of MGM Resorts International.
In 2013, he rejoined Wynn Resorts as CEO of Resorts Development, and later as head of the Wynn Macau, before leaving the casino business for other ventures in 2016.
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