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Opening statements kick off first trial of college admissions scandal

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Opening statements are slated to begin Monday in the first trial of the college admissions cheating scandal that ensnared celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and was portrayed in the “Operation Varsity Blues” Netflix documentary.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are set to kick off the trial of Gamal Abdelaziz, a former Wynn Resorts executive, and John Wilson, a private-equity investor.

The two are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to former college counselor and the scheme’s mastermind William “Rick” Singer to bribe staff and get their kids into the University of Southern California by falsely presenting them as athletic recruits.

Dozens of high-profile parents, athletic coaches and others have been arrested in connection with the case, but Abdelaziz and Wilson’s case is the first to go to trial, with many others having pleaded guilty.

Singer, who has admitted to working with parents and others to rig test scores and bribe coaches at schools like USC and Yale, is awaiting sentencing for his role in the scam, which laid bare the stunning level of corruption in the US higher education system.

Prosecutors have alleged that Abdelaziz paid $300,000 to Singer in 2017 to get his daughter, who didn’t qualify for her high school varsity basketball team, into USC as a basketball recruit.

Former Wynn Resorts executive Gamal Abdelaziz.
Former Wynn Resorts executive Gamal Abdelaziz paid Rick Singer in 2017 to get his daughter into USC as a basketball recruit.
Brian Snyder/REUTERS

Wilson similarly worked with Singer beginning in 2013 to get his son into USC as a water polo recruit and then later in 2018 to get his twin daughters into Harvard and Stanford as sailing recruits, prosecutors have alleged.

He allegedly paid more than $1 million for the arrangements.

In opening statements at the jury trial, defense attorneys will likely argue that Wilson and Abdelaziz believed their payments were legitimate donations and that USC’s acceptance of their kids in turn was legal and routine.

Prosecutors, though, have said it’s a clear-cut case of fraud and lying, accusing the defense of misleadingly focusing on USC’s admissions standards and not the behavior of the students’ parents.

Bruce Isackson.
Prosecution is expected to call Bruce Isackson, a real-estate developer from Northern California and a parent in the scam who’s been cooperating with prosecutors.
Michael Dwyer/AP

USC, for its part, has said it wasn’t aware of Singer’s scam until 2018 when it cooperated with the investigation.

US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, who’s presiding over the case in Massachusetts, emphasized at a recent hearing that “USC is not on trial.”

Prosecutors have said they don’t intend to call Singer as a witness, though they have left open the possibility. He’s already pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for tipping off some of his clients after he first agreed to cooperate with investigators.

In notes on his phone — which are now evidence in the case — Singer also claimed that federal agents were pressuring him to lie in recorded calls with parents, painting the payments they were making as bribes instead of donations. 

University of Southern California.
The University of Southern California has said it wasn’t aware of Rick Singer’s scam until 2018 when it cooperated with the investigation.
Reed Saxon/AP

The defense, if given the opportunity, may seize on those previous admissions.

Prosecution is expected to call Bruce Isackson, a real-estate developer from Northern California and a parent in the scam who’s been cooperating with prosecutors, as its first witness on Monday, Assistant US Attorney Stephen Frank said Friday in a hearing.

Isackson and his wife, Davina, pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges that they worked with Singer to get their daughters into the University of California, Los Angeles and USC as athletic recruits.

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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