Professor Homayoun Zadeh was an institution at USC’s dental school, rising over a four-decade academic career from student to lab director to the chair of the periodontology department.

But when it came time for his own daughter to apply to USC, Zadeh allegedly turned to an off-campus connection to make sure she got in. As laid out in an FBI affidavit filed in court this week, the 57-year-old agreed to pay a shady college consultant from Newport Beach $100,000 to bribe a corrupt athletic department administrator. His daughter was admitted as a star recruit in lacrosse, a sport she did not play, according to federal prosecutors.

“I have not shared anything about our arrangement but she somehow senses it,” he wrote of the teenager in a 2017 text to the counselor quoted in the affidavit. “She’s concerned that others may view her differently.”

The largest college admissions scandal in U.S. history stretches from La Jolla to Cape Cod, but its epicenter is Southern California and the private university here coveted by so many children of privilege and their families.

Of the 32 parents named in the FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, more than half stand accused of conspiring to bribe their way into USC. Other universities, including Georgetown, Stanford, the University of San Diego and Yale, were also ensnared in the criminal enterprise run by consultant William “Rick” Singer, but the misconduct alleged involving USC dwarfs all other schools.


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