By Peter Szekely
(Reuters) – The former head of asset management firm Pimco was sentenced on Friday to nine months in prison for his part in a scheme in which privileged parents paid bribes to get their children into U.S. colleges, federal prosecutors said.
Douglas Hodge, who retired as chief executive of Allianz SE’s California-based Pimco in 2016, also was sentenced to two years of supervised release, a $750,000 fine and 500 hours of community service, a spokeswoman for Boston U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in an email.
The prison term imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston was less than the two years prosecutors had sought, but the longest of the 15 defendants who have admitted guilt and been sentenced since the nationwide cheating scandal came to light last March.
Prosecutors called Hodge, 62, among “the most culpable” of 35 parents charged. Unlike 14 other defendants who received prison terms ranging from one day to six months, prosecutors said Hodge and three others who entered guilty pleas in October deserve stiffer sentences.
“They are repeat players, who engaged in the conspiracy again and again, over years,” Lelling said in a sentencing memo.
Hodge paid bribes totaling $850,000 over nearly 11 years to get two of his children into Georgetown University and two others into the University of Southern California, prosecutors said.
He tried and failed to offer bribes to get a fifth child into Loyola Marymount University, they said.
In all, 53 people have been charged in the college admissions scandal, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman and “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin. Huffman pleaded guilty and served less than two weeks in prison, while Loughlin pleaded not guilty.
The case revolves around consultant William “Rick” Singer, who admitted in March that he facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and bribed sports coaches to present his clients’ children as fake athletic recruits.
Singer, who has yet to be sentenced, is cooperating with prosecutors.
Hodge had said that Singer falsely told him his money would go toward university programs and underprivileged student athletes, but admitted that he failed to pull out of the scheme once he learned of Singer’s deception.
“For that, I am deeply ashamed and remorseful,” he wrote in a letter to the judge.
Hodge also insisted, contrary to a prosecution claim, that he never involved his children in the scheme.
Hodge’s lawyers, citing his philanthropy and devotion to his children, had asked the judge to consider splitting incarceration with home detention.
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)