Douglas Hodge at a Morningstar conference. (Photo: Jim Tweedie) Douglas Hodge at a Morningstar conference. (Photo: Jim Tweedie)

Douglas Hodge, the former Pimco chief who once safeguarded the retirement savings of millions of Americans, was sentenced to nine months in prison for paying $850,000 in bribes to get four of his children into USC and Georgetown as phony soccer and tennis team recruits.

The sentence, pronounced Friday in federal court in Boston, is the longest yet for a parent in the biggest college admissions scandal the U.S. has ever prosecuted. Hodge is the 14th parent to be sentenced.

“As a parent, I have counseled my children to listen to that inner voice that tells them right from wrong,” Hodge said in court. “Well, I did not listen to mine.”

The government had asked for a two-year term, saying Hodge, 62, was among the “most culpable” of parents prosecuted, even as he sought leniency, comparing his crimes to those of a parent in the case sentenced to six months behind bars, which had been the longest term.

“Your conduct in this whole sordid affair is appalling and mind-boggling all at the same time,” U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said. Hodge harmed not only the University of Southern California and Georgetown University but “the entire system of education in this country,” Gorton said.

Gorton said he would have sentenced Hodge to a year but gave him “a discount” for his extensive philanthropy.

Prosecutors said Hodge committed fraud despite enjoying “extreme, almost unfathomable privilege” as the leader of the giant bond manager Pacific Investment Management Co. He used a corrupt admissions counselor’s “side door” scheme more often and longer than any of the other 35 parents charged in the scandal.

“When no one was looking, this defendant stole four admissions spots,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin O’Connell said in court, adding that Hodge, who paid the first of his bribes in 2008, took tax deductions on his bribes and “put his own children in harm’s way.”

Hodge, who has seven children, expressed remorse in a statement filed in court and vowed to earn forgiveness from the students and parents he hurt.

“I know that I unfairly, and ultimately illegally, tipped the scales in favor of my children over others, over the hopes and dreams of other parents, who had the same aspirations for their children as I did for mine,” he said. “To those children, and their parents, I can only express my deepest and sincerest regret.”

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