Mastermind of college admissions scandal sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison

Jan. 4, 2023
Rick Singer, a former college admissions consultant, orchestrated the Varsity Blues scheme, which sought to get the children of wealthy parents into selective universities.

A former college admissions consultant who orchestrated a scheme to get the children of wealthy parents into selective colleges has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

The Washington Post reports that William “Rick” Singer, 62, was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Boston, nearly four years after the scandal became public. In addition to the 42-month term, U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel sentenced Singer to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay millions of dollars in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Prosecutors said Singer lured clients with promises to get students admitted into schools such as the University of Southern California and YaleStanford and Georgetown universities. They could pose as recruited athletes and secure special treatment in admissions. They could also obtain fake SAT or ACT test scores through cheating. The scheme was carried out with bribes funneled through sham charities.

The so-called Varsity Blues investigation has resulted in the conviction of more than 50 parents, university athletic officials and other participants since 2019.

Two parents who pleaded guilty were actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison for her role in a conspiracy to inflate the SAT score of her older daughter, and Loughlin received a two-month prison sentence for her part in a conspiracy to get her daughters into USC with fake competitive-rowing credentials.

Singer’s sentence was the heaviest so far in the Varsity Blues probe. He started cooperating with federal investigators in September 2018. In March 2019, Singer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the United States. His sentencing was deferred while the other cases were prosecuted.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Singer's cooperation proved “hugely significant” to the investigation, but they argued in a sentencing memorandum that Singer should receive a six-year prison term. They said he had tipped off some potential targets who had participated in the conspiracy or were planning to.

In a statement to the court written in November, Singer expressed sorrow “for the pain I caused the students and their families, and the universities and testing agencies.” 

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