Chinese Mom Sentenced for Bribery After Paying $400,000 to Get Son Into UCLA

May 19, 2020 Updated: May 19, 2020

A woman who paid $400,000 to get her son into the University of California, Los Angeles as a fake soccer recruit was sentenced for bribery.

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine for bribing her son’s way into UCLA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said Monday in a statement. She was also sentenced to time served for the five months she spent in a Spanish prison.

Sui, a Chinese national living in Canada, was arrested in September 2019 in Spain by local authorities over mail fraud charges. She agreed to plead guilty in February to one count of federal programs bribery to prevent further detainment in the European country.

Douglas P. Woodlock, the district judge presiding over the case, said Sui deserved the highest fine possible, reported Reuters.

“It’s a money crime,” he said. “And it seems to me that it ought to be paid for in money, too.”

More than 30 parents, including Sui, have been charged as part of the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal, a nationwide conspiracy to get otherwise unqualified students into elite schools with fake athletic credentials and bogus entrance exam scores. Stanford, Yale, Georgetown University, UCLA, and the University of Southern California are among the schools involved in the scheme.

William Rick Singer
William “Rick” Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court after pleading guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal in Boston, Mass., on March 12, 2019. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

Sui’s sentence comes two months after California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer pleaded guilty for his central role in the admissions scandal. Singer promised Sui that he would write her son’s application in a “special way” that would guarantee his admission to UCLA, in exchange for $400,000. In 2018, Singer instructed Sui to pay $100,000 to his fake charitable organization. He then connected Sui’s son to former UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo, who designated him as a recruit.

Sui’s son later received an athletic scholarship to UCLA, even though he did not play competitive soccer.

Singer pleaded guilty in Boston to one count each of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. He was released on bail and could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison, as well as a fine of $1.25 million.

Meanwhile, in a deal with federal prosecutors, Salcedo agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering for taking bribes totaling $200,000 to secure the admission of two students into UCLA as fake soccer recruits. His plea agreement states prosecutors will recommend a sentence at the low end of sentencing guidelines, meaning that he might face one year of supervised release, a fine, forfeiture of $200,000, and restitution.