Ex-Pimco CEO gets shorter sentence in college admission scandal because of his philanthropic donations

The ex-Pimco chief executive caught up in the college admissions scandal got a lighter sentence because of his history of philanthropy, a judge said Friday.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said he had planned to sentence former Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge to one year in prison, but decided to give him a “discount” because of his philanthropic endeavors, Bloomberg reported. Gorton sentenced Hodge to nine months and ordered him to pay a $750,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service. It is still the stiffest penalty yet in the widespread college admissions scandal.

Hodge pleaded guilty in October to paying $850,000 in bribes to get four of his children into Georgetown University and the University of Southern California under the guise that they were tennis, soccer and football recruits.

“Mr. Hodge, your conduct in this whole sordid affair is appalling and mind-boggling at the same time,” Gorton said, according to USA Today. “It is unbelievable that someone of your education, intelligence and involvement in philanthropy and successful professional activities could have been for so long and so intimately a party to the systematic, pervasive bribing of college officials to get their kids into school.”

Hodge’s nine-month sentence was the longest yet in the college admissions scandal, in which three dozen parents have been charged with paying bribes to secure seats for their children at elite universities. Prosecutors had requested a two-year sentence for Hodge.

In a sentencing memo, Hodge’s attorneys asked the court for leniency on the grounds that Hodge was a “mission-driven” philanthropist who donated “well over” $30 million to more than 100 charities between 2007 and 2018. Approximately 95% of those gifts went to support “schools, universities, and programs to assist children in disadvantaged areas,” the memo stated.

“Doug is the most generous man I have ever dealt with,” his financial adviser wrote in a letter to the court attesting to his good character. Hodge donated, on average, nearly 60% of his earned income each year over the last four years of his employment, and upon his retirement, donated 100% of his deferred bonuses, attorneys wrote in the memo.

Hodge and his wife funded a school and orphanage in Cambodia, and started their own international nonprofit, Global Girls G.L.O.W., according to court documents. The group has served 7,000 girls in 27 countries with mentorship and education programs, according to its website. (Global Girls G.L.O.W. did not respond immediately to a request for comment.)

“Doug understands that this was a crime of privilege, where wealthy students unfairly and illegally obtained admission to colleges and universities, and he will therefore redouble his efforts to create educational opportunities for underserved children,” Hodge’s lawyers wrote.

Hodge spent 28 years at Pimco, serving as CEO from 2014 to 2017, when he retired at age 60, according to court documents. He reportedly received a bonus of $45 million in 2014.

Hodge’s attorneys did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Federal prosecutors declined to comment.

A total of 20 parents in the college admissions scandal have pleaded guilty, and 14 have now been sentenced, including “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman. Another 15 are contesting the charges, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

With reporting by the Associated Press

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