Le Lézard
Subject: LAW

Unjust Legal Marathon Ends for Varsity Blues Defendant John Wilson; Sets the Record Straight In and Outside the Courtroom

BOSTON, Sept. 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the nearly half-decade legal attack by the U.S. government against John Wilson and his family has ended with the court's resentencing on a single tax charge that resulted in 12 months of probation, a fine, and community service.

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit unanimously overturned all core convictions against Mr. Wilson, and the prosecution later dropped those same charges. The Appeals Court decision confirmed what Mr. Wilson's legal team argued from day one ? that he was innocent and that his case was fundamentally different from others in the broader Varsity Blues scandal.

Mr. Wilson was unfairly and unjustly targeted as part of an alleged false conspiracy because the Boston-based prosecutors saw an opportunity to use the sole Massachusetts resident in their initial indictment to further their careers. The government used Mr. Wilson to bring Hollywood celebrities and wealthy West Coast business figures, along with the media spotlight, from California to Boston. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals rejected the false conspiracy argument, but Mr. Wilson and his family were collateral damage in a turf battle to bring this career-building case to Boston.

Mr. Wilson did not commit bribery or fraud. He made legal donations similar to what tens of thousands of other parents give each year to schools including the University of Southern California ("USC"). The recent Fair Admissions U.S. Supreme Court case showed that Harvard has given donor families an average 700% boost in admission rates. This practice is historically common at many universities for qualified applicants, and is still in use today.

Mr. Wilson's three children were all highly qualified for admission based on their own academic and athletic merits:

Despite knowing these facts about his children, prosecutors repeatedly stated in legal filings and to the media that Mr. Wilson's son was an alleged athlete ? a categorically false claim. In fact, it's clear the government knew these facts would present a devastating counter narrative to their case, so they actively blocked all of this evidence in trial.

Mr. Wilson has a three-decade long history of making substantial donations to charity, including many to schools. His will also included giving significant amounts to colleges to fund scholarships for students, like himself, whose parents didn't go to college. Mr. Wilson's donations in this case all went to college programs or IRS approved charities. He got a receipt from USC for his donation, and to this day, USC has kept his money.

As the Appeals Court confirmed, Mr. Wilson's trial was a complete miscarriage of justice. The prosecution blocked key evidence and other legitimate defense motions more than 500 times, never allowing the jury or the public to hear the truth. During his defense, Mr. Wilson's evidence and other motions were denied 98.3% of the time, destroying any chance of a fair trial. In fact, eleven former U.S. Attorneys even took the extraordinary step of publicly criticizing their former colleagues in a public brief, stating that "John Wilson did not receive a fair trial." 

Interested parties can download a copy of key evidence here.

Attorney for John Wilson, Michael Kendall of White & Case LLP, released the following statement:

"It was a terrible injustice to tarnish the Wilson family with the Varsity Blues accusations, and it is finally over. John Wilson did not commit fraud, he did not bribe any universities, and he did not partake in a grand conspiracy. His children were highly successful students who were qualified on their own merits.

Today's sentencing decision to levy a fine of $75,000 with a non-custodial probationary period of 12 months shows the tax count was more of a technical charge than anything else. John was and is a very responsible taxpayer. In fact, not only did he pay 46% of his taxable income in federal income taxes that year, he also substantially overpaid his total taxes by more than $100,000.

The IRS has readily acknowledged it never required a taxpayer to reduce their charitable deduction to a school because their child got help with admissions. That is a common practice throughout private colleges and schools, and the federal government has blessed it with this IRS policy. The evidence conclusively shows the USC Athletics Department secured admissions help for the children of 150 donors, and not a single one of them offset their tax deductions because of the admissions benefit." 

John Wilson released the following statement:

"After almost five years of being falsely accused and then wrongly convicted, my family and I are relieved to see our nightmare end. I have spent years defending my innocence and the reputations of my children. Today, it's clear to all that I was telling the truth, I did not violate any laws or school policies.

In fact, I volunteered and passed multiple polygraph tests about all aspects of this case administered by the former chief of the FBI's polygraph program, which were also independently reviewed by the former head of the CIA's worldwide polygraph program.

While I may have been the one on trial, my children were the true victims of this prosecutorial overreach. Contrary to the false narrative put forward by prosecutors and repeated in the media, my children were extraordinary students and athletes who worked hard for everything they earned.

As a parent, it's been devastating to see the prosecution falsely tarnish my children's hard-earned qualifications to support their false narrative that I committed fraud all while I was unable to speak out publicly to correct the record.

What happened to me, and my family should never happen to anyone. I am speaking out against this overreach to start rebuilding my children's reputations and doing whatever I can to help make sure this never happens again to anyone else."

Media Contact
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Map of defendants' locations

SOURCE John Wilson

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