The architect of the largest U.S. college admissions fraud scheme ever uncovered was sentenced on Wednesday to 3-1/2 years in prison for helping wealthy parents secure the admission of their children to elite universities through cheating and bribery.
William "Rick" Singer, a former college admissions consultant who played a key role as a cooperating witness in the "Operation Varsity Blues" investigation, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel in Boston.
Singer, 62, admitted in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and funneling money from wealthy parents to corrupt university coaches to secure the admission of their children as fake athletic recruits.
The years-long investigation into the scheme resulted in the conviction of more than 50 people, including actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, two of the many wealthy parents Singer had as clients.
Prosecutors had sought six years in prison, saying his crimes warranted the longest sentence of any "Varsity Blues" defendant.
Defense lawyers countered that because he provided extensive cooperation that helped prosecutors build cases against many others, Singer deserved just 12 months of home confinement, or if incarceration was deemed necessary, six months in prison.
Prosecutors have said Singer's decision in 2018 to cooperate with their investigation and allow the FBI to record calls he placed to clients allowed them to prosecute dozens of parents, coaches and associates of Singer's.
Overall, Singer paid out more than $7 million to bribe coaches and administrators at schools including Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Yale University and Stanford University.
Singer took in more than $25 million from his clients while running a California-based college admissions counseling service called The Key and a related charity.
His lawyers in court papers argue a non-prison sentence was warranted his cooperation and because he is "already serving a life sentence of sorts" after losing his assets, business and the trust of friends and family.
Singer, who now lives in a Florida trailer park, in a court filing last week wrote that he lost everything by "ignoring what was morally, ethically, and legally right in favor of winning what I perceived was the college admissions 'game.'"
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