Rick Singer, mastermind of college admissions bribery scheme, sentenced to 3.5 years

A judge on Wednesday sentenced the mastermind behind the college admissions bribery scheme that led to the arrests of several prominent figures — including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — to 3 1/2 years in prison, according to multiple reports.

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The sentence for William “Rick” Singer, 62, is the longest to be handed down in connection to what investigators called Operation Varsity Blues, according to The Associated Press and authorities. In court records, officials said Singer architected a scheme that allowed parents to pay bribes to get their children into top-tier universities, including the University of Southern California, Yale University and Stanford University, by rigging test scores and falsifying athletic credentials.

“It was a scheme that was breathtaking in its scale and its audacity,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Frank told the judge Wednesday, according to the AP. “It has literally become the stuff of books and made-for-TV movies.”

Prosecutors had asked that Singer be sentenced to six years, saying that he was the person to profit most from the scheme and “the most culpable participant in it.” Singer’s attorneys asked that he be sentenced to three years of probation with 12 months of required home detention and community service.

Billing himself as a college admissions consultant, Singer paid off test proctors and administrators to cheat on college entrance exams. He also bribed college coaches and school staff to label prospective students as athletic recruits with fake credentials, officials said.

Authorities said he took in more than $25 million as part of the scheme, which ran from about 2011 to 2019, and paid over $7 million in bribes.

He began cooperating with investigators probing the scheme in September 2018, after being confronted by authorities. Dozens of people were subsequently arrested, including Huffman and Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli.

Singer pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States, in 2019.

In court, Singer apologized, saying that he became too focused on “winning and keeping score” and allowing his moral compass to slide, CNN reported.

“I lost my ethical values and have so much regret,” he said, according to the news network. “To be frank, I’m ashamed of myself.”

Several other people also pleaded guilty in connection to the Varsity Blues scandal with their sentences ranging from probation to 2 1/2 years in prison, according to the AP.

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