Former admissions consultant Rick Singer was sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison as the mastermind behind the college admissions scandal dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, per Alanna Durkin Richer of the Associated Press.
The scheme gained notoriety in March 2019 when individuals were arrested, including celebrities Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli and Felicity Huffman. More than 50 people have been convicted of paying bribes to help their kids gain admission to top-tier schools with fake athletic credentials or entrance exam scores.
Loughlin and Giannulli were charged with paying $500,000 to get their daughters admitted to USC as recruits on the crew team. Several athletic coaches have been found guilty for their roles in the scheme, including former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who took $3 million in bribes.
"It was a scheme that was breathtaking in its scale and its audacity. It has literally become the stuff of books and made-for-TV movies," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Frank told the judge Wednesday.
Singer, as the alleged ringleader in the scandal, received the longest prison sentence to date. Prosecutors were initially seeking a six-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of justice.
The 62-year-old admitted to paying off entrance exam administrators to inflate students' test scores, while also bribing coaches to designate applicants as recruits.
He received a reduced sentence after cooperating with authorities, including wearing a wire to record meetings.