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Mastermind of vast U.S. college admissions fraud scheme faces sentencing


William “Rick” Singer leaves the federal courthouse after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The architect of the largest U.S. college admissions fraud scheme ever uncovered will be sentenced on Wednesday for helping wealthy parents secure the admission of their children to elite universities through cheating and bribery.

Federal prosecutors in Boston are seeking a six-year prison term for William “Rick” Singer. The former college admissions consultant played a key role as a cooperating witness in the “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation.

Because he cooperated, his lawyers argue U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel should sentence him to just 12 months of home confinement, or if incarceration is deemed necessary, six months in prison.

Prosecutors also want Singer, 62, to pay $10.6 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for his failure to pay taxes on the proceeds of his illegal scheme and forfeit about $8.7 million in money and assets.

Singer 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 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.

But prosecutors in a filing last week told Zobel that while Singer’s “unprecedented” cooperation deserved credit, his crimes warranted the longest sentence of any “Varsity Blues” defendant.

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 is 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.'”