Family who paid $6.5 million in admissions scandal claims innocence

Two years ago, Yusi Zhao was a student from China living the dream. In a video, she said she was admitted to Stanford University, saying “i’m very lucky.”

It pays to be lucky, but Zhao also got a giant boost. Her parents paid $6.5 million to Rick Singer, the mastermind of the college admissions scandal. But the family said Singer solicited the payment for his foundation, after their daughter was admitted to Stanford.

Unlike 33 other parents indicted so far, the Zhous have not been charged. Her mother said she thought the money was going towards scholarships and programs for needy students and that “her generosity has been taken advantage of, and her daughter has fallen victim to the scam.”

In this case, geography could make a difference, said former prosecutor Laurie Levenson.

“If you come from a place where money is no object and you can pay that $6.5 million, you might just say that’s what America requires,” she said.

The same defense may not apply to high profile parents caught up in the scandal like Lori Loughlin.

“She lives in America. She knows that you’re not supposed to bribe people or lie about an application. So the mere fact that somebody in China might try to use this defense doesn’t automatically translate for her case,” Levenson said.

Stanford University found that Yusi Zhao lied on parts of her application last month, and she was expelled.

College admissions scandal: First parents agree to cooperate with authorities

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