College Scam Coach Says She Made Only a Few Thousand Dollars
(Bloomberg) -- A former soccer coach at the University of Southern California wept as she told a jury she had betrayed college athletes by sneaking children of the wealthy into the school as sports recruits for a few thousand dollars.
Testifying on Monday in the first trial of parents in the U.S. college admissions scandal, Laura Janke, 39, told the panel that her boss, former USC soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin, had introduced her to the scheme’s mastermind, William “Rick” Singer. Singer then recruited her to help him create fake sports profiles for the applicants, she said.
When prosecutor Leslie Wright asked if she knew she was breaking the law, Janke began to cry. She said she herself had played soccer at Cal State Fullerton when she was in college and knew how much sports meant to real athletes.
“I put that all aside during this process, and I knew that I was wrong,” said Janke, who worked as an assistant coach at USC from 2007 until 2014. “I was lying to the universities. I was lying to admissions. And furthermore I knew what it takes to be a Division I athlete.” She said in cheating she had “basically devalued the commitment it takes for an athlete to play.”
Janke, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to commit racketeering, is the first coach to testify at the trial, now in its third week in federal court in Boston. She told the jury she was cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of a more lenient sentence, knowing she faces as many as 27 months in prison.
“I don’t want to go to jail,” she said, wiping away tears. “I want to be with my kids.”
Singer paid the two coaches about $50,000 a student, but Janke made only a “couple of thousand” dollars, she testified. She said she had created a profile for the daughter of former Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive Gamal Abdelaziz, one of the two parents on trial, who allegedly paid Singer $300,000 in bribes to get his child into USC as a basketball player.
When she pleaded guilty, prosecutors said she would have to forfeit more than $7,000 she made this way as well as $134,000 she made in a separate coaching business with Khosroshahin. He has also pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the U.S.
“Ali once said to me that there were two ways of keeping your job at USC,” Janke told the jurors on Monday. “It was to win or it was to bring in money.”
The case is U.S. v. Colburn et al., 19-cr-10080, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
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