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Rick Singer Gets 3.5-Year Prison Term In College Admissions Scandal

William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind of a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme that involved top universities, business executives, and Hollywood celebrities, was sentenced Wednesday to 42 months in prison. He must pay nearly $20 million in restitution and forfeitures of ill-gotten gains, the Wall Street Journal reports. A hearing in U.S. District Court in Boston marked the end of a lengthy probe that exposed the ease with which the high-stakes college admissions process could be corrupted. The scandal was announced in March 2019 by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, and federal prosecutors. It raised fundamental questions about who deserves to get into the nation’s most exclusive institutions of higher education. Singer, 62, pleaded guilty in 2019 to four felonies, admitting to running a complex operation that arranged for parents to fraudulently boost their teens’ ACT and SAT scores and to bribe college coaches to flag the clients as recruited athletes, all but guaranteeing admission to schools including Georgetown University and the University of Southern California. Many payments were funneled through Singer’s sham charity, allowing parents to take tax write-offs for the bribes. In addition to the prison term, Singer was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $10.7 million in restitution to the IRS, forfeit more than $5.3 million in assets, and pay a $3.4 million forfeiture judgment. Though he was at the head of a conspiracy that prosecutors say brought in $25 million and tainted an admissions process that was intended to be based on merit, Singer served as a key cooperator in the case, which allowed him to receive credit from U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel. The probe, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by investigators, started with a tip from an investor involved in a stock-fraud scheme and ultimately led to criminal charges against 57 individuals. “I am responsible for my actions and my crimes,” Singer told Zobel. “The fraudulent testing scheme, bribing of university officials, lying on students’ applications and profiles, I did all of it.” Singer apologized to the students he worked with, saying they were “deserving of more integrity than I showed them,” and expressed regret for tarnishing the reputations of universities, tainting the experiences of families who worked with him legitimately, and embarrassing his family and friends. The delay in sentencing Singer was partly due to his agreement with the government; cooperators typically aren’t sentenced until after their work with authorities is complete.

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