William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind behind the college admissions scandal, was sentenced to 42 months in prison on Wednesday.
Singer will also need to pay over $19 million and serve out three years of supervised release on top of the time spent in prison. The money will be paid as restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, as well as forfeiture.
“I lost my ethical values and have so much regret. To be frank, I’m ashamed of myself,” Singer said in court.
Singer was the main operator in what investigators have called “Operation Varsity Blues,” where he sold placements for students into top schools. The scandal embroiled celebrities such as Lori Loughlin, who served two months in prison after she took measures to get her daughters into the University of Southern California. There were over 50 defendants in the Varsity Blues scam, and around two-thirds of them were given sentences of three months or less.
Part of the scam was carried out by paying coaches to bring in students to play on sports teams, even if they weren’t very skilled or had never played before. Singer also helped get students into schools by having someone change their incorrect answers on college admissions exams or having a proctor tell them what the right answers were. He was able to do this by telling parents to get the students examined for learning differences so they could get more time to take the tests. Parents also submitted payments via his fake charity, which permitted them to get tax write-offs.
Prosecutors wanted to see Singer get six years in prison, while the defense team wanted a much shorter span of prison time.
“Without this defendant, without Rick Singer coming up with a scheme, masterminding the scheme, orchestrating the scheme it never would have happened,” the prosecutor said.
“Staggering in scope, Singer’s scheme was also breathtaking in its audacity and the levels of deception it involved,” prosecutors reportedly wrote in a court filing before the sentencing. They said that his work to help the investigation “was exceptionally valuable and, at the same time, plagued by missteps.”
Singer worked with authorities in order to bring charges against some of the people who had solicited his help getting their kids into college in the past. He recorded people in secret over the phone as they admitted their participation. At first, however, he told multiple people about the investigation and was charged with obstruction of justice for doing so.
Singer said in court documents that he has “woken up every day feeling shame, remorse, and regret.”
He will hand himself over to officials on February 27.