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Napa winemaker snared in college admissions scandal

Authorities say businessman offered $300,000 to get his daughter into USC

A Napa Valley winemaker has received the harshest sentence yet in a scheme in which celebrities and others allegedly bribed officials to get their children into universities, media outlets are reporting.

A federal judge in Boston sentenced Agustin Huneeus Jr. to five months in prison for offering $300,000 in bribes to get his daughter into the University of Southern California, the New York Post reports.

Authorities said Huneeus, whose family owns vineyards in the northern San Francisco Bay area and Oregon, paid to boost his daughter’s SAT score and to have her designated as a water polo recruit, Fox Business reports. He was arrested before paying a majority of the money, the Post reports, and his daughter wasn't admitted to USC.

Part of the bribe was for Hunneus' daughter to be recruited as a USC water polo player, a sport she didn't actually play competitively, reports KGO-TV in San Francisco.

In a statement he read in court, Hunneus said he was "deeply ashamed" and that he recognizes his actions represent "the worst sort of entitlement," according to the media reports. He pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy.

His sentencing is only the latest in a college admissions cheating scandal that has led to charges against 51 people so far, including 35 parents. Some were outraged anew recently when actress Felicity Huffman was given two weeks behind bars after pleading guilty to paying to help her daughter cheat on an entrance exam. Other sentences have ranged from one to four months.

The Napa-based Huneeus Vintners owns a portfolio of wines from the Napa and Sonoma valleys in California and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, including Quintessa, Flowers, Faust, Benton-Lane, Leviathan, and Illumination, according to its website.

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