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This former USC admissions official pleads guilty to running scheme with fake transcripts

The official pleaded guilty in the admissions scheme

FILE - In this March 12, 2019 file photo, people pose for photos in front of the iconic Tommy Trojan statue on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
In this March 12, 2019, file photo, people pose for photos in front of the iconic Tommy Trojan statue on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Reed Saxon, Associated Press

A former University of Southern California admissions official agreed to plead guilty on wire fraud charges in a scheme to get some USC graduate school admissions slots for students in exchange for thousands of dollars.

What’s going on:

  • According to the Department of Justice, Hiu Kit David Chong admitted that he helped put false college transcripts into admission packets for students.
  • The faked college transcripts included “inflated grades, phony letters of recommendation and fraudulent personal statements,” according to the DOJ.
  • Chong pleaded guilty on one count of criminal information that charged him with wire fraud. He will appear before a court at a future date.

What happened:

  • Chong solicited and received payments from international students and others who worked on behalf of students who wouldn’t normally qualify for admission to USC, according to the Department of Justice.
  • The payments ranged from $8,000 to $12,000.
  • According to the DOJ, Chong bought the college transcripts that were believed to be from a Chinese university. He asked the supplier to inflate the grade point averages on the transcripts.
  • Chong admitted that he pushed the documents into the application packets, which included “fraudulent letters of recommendation and fabricated personal statements purportedly written by the applicants.”
  • Chong admitted he sought surrogate test takers for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which USC will consider when choosing students, according to the Department of Justice.
  • Three students gained admission to USC thanks to Chong, he told the DOJ. He was paid $38,000 total for his efforts. He may have received other payments, which would bring the total closer to $40,000.
  • He will face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.