LOS ANGELES – A former USC water polo coach found guilty in the college admissions bribery scandal had his conviction set aside Thursday and will face a new trial.
The ruling came after a judge determined that the prosecution misstated during closing arguments what it needed to prove for jurors to find Jovan Vavic guilty of accepting bribes to help wealthy parents’ children gain admission to USC, according to documents filed in Boston federal court.
Vavic was found guilty in April by a federal jury in Boston of fraud and bribery charges.
Vavic, 61, allegedly accepted the bribes to help parents take advantage of relaxed admission standards for athletes at USC.
Attorneys for the ex-coach insisted he never took bribes, and was only trying to raise money for the school from wealthy donors.
Vavic was accused of working with the scheme’s organizer, William “Rick” Singer, to coordinate students’ admissions to USC as fake athletic recruits over a four-year period beginning in 2014.
Almost 60 people were charged in the case, including nearly three dozen parents who subsequently pleaded guilty, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and Loughlin’s fashion-designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli. Parents have so far received punishments ranging from probation to nine months in prison.
Singer, a Newport Beach consultant at the center of the scheme, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to charges of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and obstruction and is awaiting sentencing.