Rick Singer, ‘mastermind’ of massive college admissions scandal, sentenced to years in prison

News reports first began to break in 2019 about a massive college admissions cheating scandal busted by the FBI known as Operation Varsity Blues, in which wealthy parents paid bribes in order for their children to be accepted into elite or Ivy League colleges and universities.

Now the purported mastermind of that scheme, William “Rick” Singer, has been sentenced by a federal judge to serve 42 months in federal prison, the Daily Wire reported.

Once that sentence is completed, Singer has also been ordered to serve three years of supervised release as well as to pay nearly $20 million combined in fines, restitution to the IRS, and asset forfeiture.

Fraud, racketeering, and money laundering

NPR reported that Singer had pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges of money laundering conspiracy, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and obstruction of justice.

Singer’s scheme involved wealthy parents — including top business executives and celebrities — making large tax-deductible payments to a fraudulent charity he operated, more than $25 million overall, that he then used to bribe coaches and school administrators to accept the students or to pay for fake test scores for the students in order to gain admission.

Of the 50-plus defendants caught up in the busted scheme, the vast majority were sentenced to just a few months in jail or less and to pay fines of less than $300,000. Prosecutors had asked for six years in prison for Singer while his defense attorneys requested just home confinement and probation, but the judge decided to levy a sentence in the middle of that range.

Cooperated with prosecutors as part of deal

CNN reported that Singer’s plea deal was contingent upon his cooperation with investigators and prosecutors in uncovering evidence to bring charges against his other co-conspirators and participants in the fraudulent college admissions scheme, and he did exactly that — to an extent.

Prosecutors noted that Singer had indeed agreed to have his phone wiretapped or to wear a wire in person for incriminating conversations with others involved in the scandal, but it was also pointed out that he had inappropriately tipped off some of those individuals to the developing investigation, which led to the obstruction of justice charge in addition to the assorted conspiracy counts.

Nonetheless, prosecutors ultimately praised Singer for his “historical,” “hugely significant,” and “unparalleled” assistance in bringing charges against the others, which Singer’s defense predictably seized upon as justifying leniency in sentencing from the court.

Singer expresses “regret” and shame

ABC News reported that federal prosecutors told the court that this particular scandal was the “most massive fraud” ever committed in terms of the U.S. education system, and it was all due entirely to the scheming of Singer.

“Without this defendant, without Rick Singer coming up with a scheme, masterminding the scheme, orchestrating the scheme it never would have happened,” the top prosecutor said. “He is the architect, he is the face of this fraud.”

For his part, Singer issued an apology to everyone involved in his fraudulent scheme and expressed his deep remorse for what he had done.

“I can see the difference between how I was and how I am now and always want to be. All I want to do is live a life that is deeper and more enriched by devoting myself to making a difference in other people’s lives,” he said in a statement. “Despite my passion to help others, I have lost my ethical values and I have so much regret. To be frank, I am ashamed of myself.”

The media outlet noted that Singer is set to turn himself over to authorities on Feb. 27 to begin serving his sentence.

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