By JOSH RESNEK
A former high-ranking Wynn Resorts official, Gamal Abdelaziz, who was one of the key players when Mayor Carlo DeMaria was trying to bring the casino here, is being tried in Federal District Court.
Gamal Abdelaziz conspired with William Singer, a college admissions fraudster. Singer aided Abdelaziz’s child to be admitted to the University of Southern California as a basketball player when she was not good enough to play for the university.
Abdelaziz paid Singer hundreds of thousands of dollars to have his daughter admitted.
Mr. Singer told Abdelaziz and many others that they could bypass the regular admissions process by presenting their children as athletic recruits, and he falsified or embellished their credentials so they could do that, the prosecutor said in Federal District Court in Boston where the trial is into its second week.
Abdelaziz had numerous contacts with DeMaria during the initial period when Wynn Resorts got involved in Boston.
Abdelaziz is a major casino figure in the industry.
He has denied any wrong- doing telling prosecutors: “He thought Singer was legitimate,” Brian T. Kelly, the lawyer for Mr. Abdelaziz, said in his opening statement in Boston federal court. “He had no inkling that Singer was a skilled con man.”
How a titan in the casino business could possibly be duped by a con man is the subject of a great deal of the courtroom banter taking place as this trial edges into week two.
The prosecution said Abdelaziz and the other parents who paid Singer were willing accomplices in a scheme that Leslie Wright, an assistant U.S. attorney, called “fraud” and “bribery.”
“What these two defendants did was criminal,” Ms. Wright said. “They participated in a scheme to have their children admitted to college as fake athletic recruits in exchange She added: “The parents did not come up with the scheme. That was Rick Singer. But without them, it never would have happened for money. That’s fraud. It is also a form of bribery.”
Abdelaziz is being tried with businessman John Wilson. Mr. Wilson paid Singer $1.5 million to get his twin daughters into Harvard or Stanford. Mr. Wilson believed as Abdelaziz claims – they were making donations in return for special treatment by the universities. The federal investigation, known as Operation Varsity Blues, has snared more than 50 parents, coaches, exam administrators, and others in an admissions scheme that implicated athletic coaches from colleges including Yale, Stanford, U.S.C., Wake Forest, and Georgetown. The government said those arrested were part of a conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students as trumped-up athletic recruits.
Over the past two and a half years, 33 parents — including the actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and Ms. Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer — have pleaded guilty, receiving sentences up to nine months in prison. Three more parents are scheduled to go on trial in January, and one in April.
Mr. Abdelaziz, the former casino executive, had previously hired Mr. Singer for a $5,000 fee — more typical of admissions consultants — to coach his son, Adam, on get- ting into college, Mr. Kelly said. After Adam was admitted to Columbia, the university’s development office reached out to Mr. Abdelaziz for a donation, and he gave $200,000, Mr. Kelly said.
Abdelaziz’s daughter Sabrina did not make the cut for her high school basketball team.
The trial began again on Monday.
Much of the information for this article is extracted from the New York Times.