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College cheating scandal brings resignations and questions at elite prep schools

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College cheating scandal brings resignations and questions at elite prep schools

The college admissions cheating scandal is roiling some of Southern California’s most elite prep schools, leading to resignations and questions as federal prosecutors seek student records from the institutions.

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Douglas Hodge and Michelle Janavs, two of the parents charged in connection with the wide-reaching college admissions cheating scandal, have resigned from their positions on the board of trustees for the famed Sage Hill School in Newport Beach.

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Advertisement > “I can confirm that Michelle Janavs and Doug Hodge have resigned from the Board of Trustees at Sage Hill School,” Torrey Olins, the private school’s director of communications and marketing, said in an email Thursday.

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Hodge is the former chief executive of Newport Beach-based Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO. He is accused of paying bribes to get two of his children into USC as part of the admissions bribery scandal.

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Hodge, 61, faces charges that include conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

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Janavs, a Newport Beach resident and a former executive in her family’s food manufacturing business, allegedly used bribery to get her two daughters into preferred schools, including USC.

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Both have pleaded not guilty

Law enforcement sources told The Times that several top private schools in the L.A. area received subpoenas from prosecutors seeking information about some of the students involved in the fraud case

The sources said the prep schools are not currently targets of the investigation. But prosecutors want to know whether the parents and others accused in the case sought or received help from the schools. They also want to get a better idea of how the alleged scheme worked, the sources said

Among the schools receiving subpoenas is Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, which marketing guru Jane Buckingham’s daughter attended until last year

Sources told The Times that several former Harvard-Westlake parents used the service of Rick Singer, the admitted mastermind of the college “side door” entries with families paying small fortunes to cheat on SATs, fake sports backgrounds and pay off coaches

In a statement provided to The Times, Harvard-Westlake said it was conducting an internal review to “fully understand the scope of any relationship that Singer may have had with our families.”

“We will also provide any information that authorities request that will help them with their continuing investigation,” the school said. “Harvard-Westlake has an unwavering commitment to integrity and fairness in the college admissions.”

Buckingham was charged by federal prosecutors with paying $50,000 for someone else to take her son’s ACT exam in July. She has pleaded not guilty

Singer, who has pleaded guilty to a slew of federal charges and cooperated with the federal government since September, had ties to Sage Hill School in Newport Beach, the city from which he ran his for-profit college counseling business and a nonprofit through which he laundered $25 million in payments

Advertisement > It is unclear whether Sage Hill was one of the schools receiving federal subpoenas

Hodge is accused of paying $625,000 to Singer and his various associates to get his daughters into USC and Georgetown as fake athletic recruits