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'Varsity Blues' Trial Promises Fresh Insights in Old Scandal

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The first trial in the "Operation Varsity Blues" college admissions bribery scandal will begin this week.
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BOSTON (AP) — The first trial in the "Operation Varsity Blues" college admissions bribery scandal will begin this week, with the potential to shed light on investigators' tactics and brighten the spotlight on a secretive school selection process many have long complained is rigged to favor the rich.

Jury selection is beginning Wednesday in federal court in Boston in the case against two parents — former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz and former Staples and Gap Inc. executive John Wilson — who are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to help get their kids into the University of Southern California by falsely presenting them as athletic recruits.

Though they were among dozens of prominent parents, athletic coaches and others arrested across the country when the case exploded into the headlines over two years ago, theirs is the first to go trial.

Defense attorneys are expected to argue that they believed their payments were legitimate donations and that USC's treatment of their kids was routine for parents with deep pockets.

"The government appears to want to present its one-sided evidence that the 'school wasn't okay' with granting preferential admissions treatment for donations while at the same time blocking the defendants' evidence that, in fact, the school was okay with this arrangement," the two executives' lawyers wrote in a court filing.

Prosecutors say the defense is merely trying to muddy the waters in a clear-cut case of lying and fraud.

Since March 2019, a parade of wealthy parents have pleaded guilty to paying big bucks to help get their kids into school with rigged test scores or bogus athletic credentials. The group — including TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and Loughlin's fashion…
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