The man known as the architect of the notorious US college admissions scandal has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
William “Rick” Singer funnelled money to university coaches from wealthy parents to secure the admission of their children to elite colleges.
More than 50 people have been convicted for their role in the scandal. Among those convicted are actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who were clients of Singer.
Singer’s sentence, delivered on Wednesday, marks the longest of any parent, coach or others who were convicted in the scandal. US District Judge Rya W. Zobel also ordered Singer to pay $10m in restitution to the federal government.
Prosecutors had sought a six-year prison term for Singer and a payment of $10.6m to the US Internal Revenue Service as he did not pay taxes on the money he received as part of the scheme.
His lawyers, however, argued Singer’s sentence should be 12 months of home confinement, or six months in prison, due to his cooperation in the investigation into the scandal dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues”.
Singer, a consultant, admitted in 2019 that he helped facilitate the US college admissions scandal by transferring money from parents to coaches, who would then fraudulently register non-athletic students as recruits, thereby admitting them to college. He also helped facilitate cheating on college entrance exams.
The scandal attracted global media attention, as some of the parents were revealed to be celebrities or CEOs of major companies.
This includes Ms Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, who were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes with the help of Singer to have their two daughters admitted into the University of Southern California (USC) as fake rowing-team recruits.
Ms Loughlin served two months in prison in 2020 for her role in the scandal, while her husband served five months.
Overall, prosecutors said Singer took home more than $25m from his clients, and paid out more than $7m in bribes to coaches at elite US colleges, including USC, Yale University and Stanford University.
Singer expressed shame for his actions on Wednesday, telling the court his moral compass had been “warped by the lessons my father taught me about competition. I embraced his belief that embellishing or even lying to win was acceptable as long as there was victory.”
According to a November court filing, Singer said he had “lost everything”, including all his assets, and that he now lives in a trailer park where he taught seniors and autistic children how to paddleboard.
“I have been (rightly) judged by family, friends, and professional community, I will be permanently notorious as the ‘mastermind of Varsity Blues,'” he said.