William Rick Singer, the mastermind of a nationwide college admissions fraud scheme, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and supervised release Wednesday afternoon in Boston.
Singer, 62, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to charges including racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in connection with the scandal, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. She cooperated with the government investigation and used a wire for the FBI.
In addition to the 42 months served in prison, Singer will have three years of supervised release.
The operation involved bribery, cheating on entrance exams and unqualified applicants using false claims to get into schools as elite recruited athletes.
Singer told the judge Wednesday that he was ashamed of what he had done and previously believed that «lying to win was acceptable because of victory.»
“I have learned to use my strong self-discipline to become an honest and legitimate person,” Singer said, adding that he “can and will be” a law-abiding citizen.
Prosecutors had requested a six-year sentence, while defense attorneys requested three years of probation or a maximum of six months behind bars.
US Attorney Rachael S. Rollins called the behavior seen in the Operation Varsity Blues case «something out of a Hollywood movie.» In a press conference after the sentencing, Rollins described her shock at the depth of the college admissions scandal.
“I, like millions of lower- and middle-class working families, have been through this process,” Rollins said. «I was never foolish enough to believe it was a meritocracy, but I had no idea how corrupt and infected the admissions process was until this case exposed it all. Any parent or guardian who has experienced the admissions process to the college should be angry.»
FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said that with every bribe Singer paid on behalf of wealthy families, he «sold a little more to working students.»
“Everyone arrested, charged and convicted to date is integral to the success of the scheme, but without Rick Singer, it never would have made it,” Bonavolonta said.
Singer’s sentence is the longest handed down in the case so far, followed by former Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who received two and a half years in prison for pocketing more than $3 million in bribes.
So far, more than 50 people, including parents and coaches, have been convicted in the case. The cheating scheme ensnared Hollywood with actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman charged in the case.
Singer allegedly obtained more than $25 million from his clients, paid bribes totaling more than $7 million and used more than $15 million of his clients’ money for his own gain, prosecutors said.
In a letter filed Dec. 29 with his defense sentencing memorandum, Singer said he now lives in a trailer park and is unable to get a job, despite more than 1,000 attempts, because of his role in Operation Varsity. Blues.
“For most of my life, if not all, I have thrived on winning at all costs,” he wrote. “My moral compass was broken, and more and more over time, choosing good over evil became less important than doing whatever it took to be recognized as the ‘best.’”
By being caught, he has been given «the opportunity for insight, atonement and redemption,» he wrote.
Doha Madani contributed.