Former Georgetown University parent Douglas Hodge was sentenced Feb. 7 for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, receiving the longest prison term of any parent who has been sentenced for money laundering in the college admissions scandal.
Hodge, the former CEO of investment company Pimco, was sentenced to nine months in prison, two years of court supervision, 500 hours of community service as well as ordered to pay a $750,000 fine. Hodge pleaded guilty to bribing athletic coaches to get two of his children into Georgetown and two into the University of Southern California.
Hodge carried out the bribery with the help of Rick Singer, the ringleader of the national college admissions scandal. Hodge claims not to have known the full extent of the corruption, believing that he was making donations to the schools, according to an Feb. 9 op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
“I unfortunately made payments that facilitated Mr. Singer’s scheme, believing that I was supporting the university while also helping my children,” Hodge wrote. “But I also knew that Mr. Singer was providing my children with a false athletic brand. I believed that Mr. Singer was directing my payments to underfunded athletic programs.”
The charges come as part of the “Varsity Blues” college scandal, a national college admissions investigation that has exposed alleged misconduct by parents who sought to improve their children’s college admissions chances. Hodge is among four other Georgetown parents charged in the scandal.
Hodge has since realized that his actions had undesired and unintended consequences, according to his op-ed.
“I deeply regret my conduct, and I am sorry for the shame I have brought upon myself, my wife and my children, who did nothing to deserve the consequences they have suffered as a result of my actions,” Hodge wrote. “I also understand that a larger circle of students and families have been affected, and I regret the harm I’ve caused.”
Hodge paid $325,000 to former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst for the admission of two of his children as tennis recruits, according to court documents. Hodge later spent $525,000 to get two other children into USC as soccer and football recruits, and then tried to bribe a fifth child into Loyola Marymount University but was unsuccessful.
Georgetown learned of Ernst’s misconduct in 2017 and took appropriate measures to ensure the integrity of future athletic recruitment, according to a university spokesperson.
“In 2017, Georgetown’s Admissions Office discovered irregularities in the athletic credentials of two students who were being recruited to play tennis. Neither student was admitted,” the university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Georgetown immediately put former coach Gordon Ernst on leave, initiated an internal investigation, established a new policy concerning the recruitment of student athletes, implemented audits to check whether recruited student athletes are on team rosters, and asked Mr. Ernst to resign.”
Georgetown implemented the Office of Admissions and Departments of Athletics Policy on Recruitment of Student-Athletes in Nov. 2018. The Department of Athletics and Office of Admissions will perform periodic audits to check if recruited student-athletes are not on the roster of the sport for which they were recruited at Georgetown. For any students identified, the head coach of that team must provide a written explanation as to why the student is not on the team, according to the policy.
The admissions scandal became public knowledge in March 2019 after prosecutors in Boston charged 50 parents for various actions of admissions fraud. The university dismissed two students in May in connection with the scheme.
Hodge is the second Georgetown parent formally sentenced in the admissions scandal. Stephen Semprevivo was sentenced in Sept. 2019 after bribing Ernst to fraudulently place his son Adam Semprevivo onto the university tennis team. (Full disclosure: Semprevivo previously served as a cartoonist for The Hoya.)