Miami developer Robert 'Bob' Zangrillo charged in college admissions scam

Prosecutors say for $250,000 Miami developer got daughter into USC

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Robert "Bob" Zangrillo, who is the founder and CEO of a Miami-based private investment firm focused on venture capital and real estate investments, is facing federal charges Tuesday in the college admissions bribery scandal. 

Federal prosecutors are accusing Zangrillo, who graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business, of conspiring to bribe athletic department officials at the University of Southern California to designate his daughter as an athletic recruit, so she could be admitted after she was rejected in 2017. 

According to the criminal complaint, Zangrillo wanted Mikaela Sanford to secretly take classes on behalf of his daughter, so that the grades Sanford earned in Zangrillo's daugher's name could be submitted to USC as part of her application.

"If you can do the biology thing, just makes sure it gets done as quickly as possible, so
we have a backup plan for the conditional [acceptance to USC], and then you do the best you can
to overturn the art history [grade]," Zangrillo said, according to investigator' recorded conversation. 

According to FBI Special Agent Laura Smith, Zangrillo's daughter submitted a transfer application February 2018 claiming that she rowed crew at a club for an average of 44 hours per week for 15 weeks per year, and that she was taking classes at a number of schools, including Santa Monica College, Rio Salado College, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"I will take her. You guys help us; We will help you. I’ll take her, I just need her to finish all these credits," the USC crew coach said, while agreeing to designate her as a purported recruit to the crew team, according to investigator's recorded conversation. 

Investigators say the coach advocated for Zangrillo's daughter and placed her on their VIP list for transfers, and on June 14, 2018 USC admitted her as a transfer student beginning in the spring semester of 2019.

Zangrillo wired $200,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation and mailed a $50,000 check to the USC Women's Athletics, according to prosecutors. 

He appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon and was released after posting $500,000 bail. His next court appearance will be in Boston.  

About the Authors: