Developer with Scottsdale office pleads guilty in college scandal

Apr 9, 2019, 9:01 AM | Updated: 3:34 pm
Robert Flaxman (L) and artist Kadir Lopez attend Kadir Lopez's Art Show on August 12, 2016 in West ...
Robert Flaxman (L) and artist Kadir Lopez attend Kadir Lopez's Art Show on August 12, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Getty Images/ Matt Winkelmeyer)
(Getty Images/ Matt Winkelmeyer)

PHOENIX – A developer with projects in the Phoenix area and 12 other parents, including celebrities, pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and fraud Monday in a college admissions scandal.

Robert Flaxman, whose Crown Realty and Development was responsible for the Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale, among many Valley ventures, entered the plea along with award-winning actress Felicity Huffman, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Another popular actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were also among the 50 arrested last month. They were not listed in a Department of Justice release of plea deals.

Flaxman, 62, was accused by the federal government of paying $350,000 so his son would be admitted to the University of San Diego and his daughter would score better on a college entrance exam.

He thanked his supporters and expressed regret in a statement distributed Tuesday by his company.

“I deeply regret the mistakes that I have made. They are my own, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” the statement said.

“I am very pleased to have reached an agreement regarding the resolution of my case with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

A company press release said Flaxman’s legal issues wouldn’t impede its plans to develop 96.5 acres recently acquired in the Desert Ridge area of north Phoenix.

“Robert has been integral to the company’s substantial success, but we also have many others,” Rick Carpinelli, who leads Crown’s Arizona operations, said in the release. “He has issued a statement on his matter, and justice will now run its course.

“Meanwhile, we will be hard at work delivering a terrific new mix of uses for our neighbors, the city of Phoenix and state of Arizona.”

Court documents showed federal prosecutors recommended a prison sentence for Flaxman at the lower end of guidelines and a fine of $40,000.

The California-based Flaxman, whose company has an office in Scottsdale, faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine and a mandatory special assessment.

Flaxman Plea Agreement 0 by on Scribd

Authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The wealthy parents all had agreed to pay William “Rick” Singer various amounts of money to ensure he got their children admitted to the high-profile universities and colleges of their choice.

The conspiracy included bribing entrance-exam administrators and coaches. The coaches agreed to pretend they had recruited the sons and daughters for their teams, when in fact, the teens did not participate in said sports.

Singer’s son had applied to attend the University of San Diego, a private school. He was admitted.

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Developer with Scottsdale office pleads guilty in college scandal