In April, 14 parents agreed to plead guilty for bribing their children’s way into college, a drama that has captured the public’s imagination—and either derailed or jumpstarted Olivia Jade’s career, depending on the day. On Wednesday, Bruce and Davina Isackson, a wealthy couple from California, became the first of the group to officially enter their guilty plea in court—a news moment that has finally provided a some answers to the looming question of, “What the hell were these parents thinking?”
Bruce and Davina paid Rick Singer, the ring leader of Operation Varsity Blues, more than $600,000 to get their daughters into UCLA and USC, which Singer accomplished by making their oldest look like a star athlete and juicing the other’s ACT test score.
Court documents show that Bruce thanked Singer via email for his “persistence, creativity and commitment” in getting his oldest daughter into college, a federal affidavit revealed, according to the Boston Globe. “Creativity,” in particular, stands out here as an interesting word choice. And yet, it’s pretty clear, despite the coded language, Isackson knew he was doing something wrong. He suspected, at one point, that federal prosecutors were on his case and tapping his phone. (A fact we know, of course, because the FBI was indeed listening to his calls.)
But Bruce’s main concern seems to be that his reputation might take a hit if word of any criminal activity got out. The thought of it leaves him almost speechless:
Isackson said he dreaded what might happen if the alleged scheme were to hit the press.
“The embarrassment to everyone in the communities,” he said, according to the transcript. “Oh my God, it would just be — Yeah. Ugh.”
Prison time likely won’t fly among the private school set, but who knows! According to the Globe, sentences for those who signed plea agreements with prosecutors could last from “a few months to a few years.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated Rick Singer’s name as Bryan Singer. The post has been updated.