‘Operation Varsity Blues’ college admissions scam mastermind Rick Singer faces sentencing

The brain of nationwide college admissions bribery scandal He is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday after helping authorities secure the convictions of a murdered wealthy parents involved in his scheme to defraud the selection process at top-tier schools.

Federal prosecutors are seeking six years behind bars for Rick Singerwho for more than a decade helped deep-pocketed parents get their mostly undeserving children into some of the nation’s most selective schools with bogus test scores and athletic credentials .

The scandal has embarrassed elite universities across the country, put a spotlight on a secretive admissions system seen as rigged in favor of the wealthy and revealed the lengths some parents will go to to get their children into the school of their choice. .

Singer, 62, began secretly cooperating with investigators and worked with the FBI to record hundreds of phone calls and meetings before the arrests of dozens of parents and athletic coaches in March 2019. More than 50 people – including celebrities TV artists and prominent businessmen – were eventually convicted in a case that authorities called Operation Varsity Blues.

In the nearly four years since the scandal hit the headlines, Singer has remained out of jail and largely silent in public. He was never called as a witness by prosecutors in the trial, but will have a chance to address the court before the judge handed down his sentence in federal court in Boston.

In a letter to the judge, Singer blamed his actions on his “win at all costs” attitude, which he said was caused in part by repressed childhood trauma. His attorney asked for three years of probation, or if the judge believes jail time is necessary, six months in jail.

“By ignoring what was morally, ethically, and legally right in favor of winning what I knew was the ‘game’ of college admissions, I lost everything,” Singer wrote.

The singer pleaded guilty in 2019 – the same day the massive case became public – to charges including racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Several others eventually pleaded guilty to the charges, while both parents were convicted at trial.

Boston authorities began investigating the plot afterward an executive under investigation for an unrelated securities fraud scheme told investigators that a Yale soccer coach offered to help his daughter get into the school in exchange for money. The Yale coach led the authorities to Singer, whose cooperation opened several scandals.

Over the years, Singer has paid entrance exam proctors to boost students’ test scores and hired coaches to teach applicants as recruits for sports they sometimes didn’t have. played, seeking to increase their chances of getting into school. Singer took more than $25 million from his clients, paid bribes totaling more than $7 million, and used more than $15 million of his clients’ money for his own benefit, according to prosecutors.

“He is the architect and mastermind of a criminal enterprise that has further undermined the integrity of the college admissions process — which already favors the wealthy and privileged — to a degree never before seen in this country, ” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

If the judge agrees with prosecutors, it will be the maximum sentence handed down in the case. So far, the heaviest punishment is a former Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who was jailed for 2 1/2 years for pocketing more than $3 million in bribes.

Others caught up in the scandal include the “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulliand “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman. Penalties for parents range from probation to 15 months behind bars, although the parent who received the prison sentence remains free while he appeals his conviction.

One parent, who was not accused of working with Singer, was acquitted on all counts of accusations that she hired Ernst to get her daughter into school. And a judge ordered a new trial for former University of Southern California water polo standout Jovan Vavic, who was convicted of accepting a bribe.

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