Watch CBS News

Marin County Couple Caught Up In College Admissions Scheme

SAN RAFAEL (KPIX) -- Bay Area high schools on Tuesday were trying to distance themselves from the growing college admissions scandal.

Marin Academy issued a statement on Tuesday that read in part, "There is no indication that anyone who works at Marin Academy was aware of or participated in the alleged illegal and highly unethical behavior detailed in the charges."

However, there are two former students at the Academy are involved in the massive college admissions scheme that implicated dozens of wealthy parents and school officials.

Ames Avenue is just another picturesque street in the town of Ross. In one of the homes here, live one couple accused in the national college admissions scandal. Diane Blake is a retail executive and her husband Todd is an investor-entrepreneur.

They are two among the many parents charged with offering bribes to get their children into college. A KPIX examination of the documents pertaining to their case painted the picture of something that seemed very much like a business transaction.

According to prosecutors, the Blakes reached out to the people running the scheme in early 2017, asking if there was a way to get their daughter into the University of Southern California. Emails were exchanged and phone calls were made. Several months later, their daughter was getting pitched to the university as a valuable volleyball recruit by USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel.

The complaint alleges that the daughter's volleyball credentials were embellished. In exchange, the Blake's wrote a check to USC Women's Athletics for $50,000.

Then, in January of 2018, the Blakes contributed a $200,000 donation to the foundation run by Rick Singer, the man allegedly behind this entire operation.

In March, Todd Blake celebrated his daughter's USC admission on Twitter. But not long after that, there were signs of trouble. An audit had investigators looking into these donations and, ultimately, the admissions scandal.

At which point one person involved reached out to the Blakes, alerting them to the probe. In a recorded phone call, Diane Blake responds to the threat of an inquiry by saying "Yikes. I mean, [our daughter] doesn't even know."

Diane and Todd Blake are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. While the Blake's daughter was admitted to USC, there is no indication that she is on the school's volleyball team.

Heinel has since been charged as part of the larger conspiracy and fired by the University of Southern California.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.