A parent in the U.S. college admissions scandal who spent more than five months in a Spanish prison while awaiting extradition was sentenced to time served for paying $400,000 in bribes to get her son into UCLA as a phony soccer recruit.Xiaoning Sui, 49, who lives in Vancouver and was arrested last year while traveling in Europe, endured conditions that were “harsh, isolating and far more punitive” than at the U.S. minimum security camps where some parents have landed, her lawyers said in court filings. She couldn’t communicate, because she doesn’t speak Spanish or English, and was confined to her cell for 15 hours a day, they said.

Under an agreement with prosecutors in which Sui pleaded guilty to federal programs bribery, the U.S. didn’t seek additional prison time.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, who held Monday’s sentencing by videoconference, accepted her plea and the terms of the agreement, sentencing Sui to the five months and one week she’d already served and ordering her to pay the maximum fine of $250,000. The $400,000 will be forfeited to the government.

“It is a money crime, and it seems to me that it ought to be paid for in money, too,” the judge said.

Woodlock said some might speculate that Sui thought bribes were part of the admissions process.

“I don’t want to make that kind of statement, but I want to say this,” he said. “It’s an indictment of our educational system that a person from a foreign country would think it’s possible to get a child in through the payment of an extraordinary amount of money.”


In 2018, Sui paid corrupt college consultant William “Rick” Singer to funnel bribes to University of California, Los Angeles soccer coach Jorge Salcedo, according to prosecutors. Salcedo recruited Sui’s son even though the teenager played tennis and not competitive soccer. Salcedo was fired and agreed to plead guilty to racketeering.Her family described Sui to the court as a devoted mother who never missed her son’s tennis matches and who washed his team’s underwear by hand when the players were on the road.”No matter how cold or hot the weather was, she sat there to watch, and helped him analyze after the game in order to improve the game,” her sister Xiaomin Sui said in a letter to the judge. She said Sui was a philanthropist who sent instructions from her cell for her husband to donate $280,000 to combat the coronavirus.

Sui, whose husband lives in China and whom she is eager to visit, moved to Canada in 2014 seeking “better educational opportunities” for her son, her lawyer told the court.

More than 50 parents, athletic coaches and others have been charged in the biggest college admissions scam the U.S. has ever prosecuted. Of the 36 parents, 22 have pleaded guilty. Their sentences have ranged from two weeks for actor Felicity Huffman to nine months for former Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge.

Hodge is scheduled to begin serving his sentence on June 30 but may get a rare chance at re-sentencing.