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Rick Singer, head of the college admissions bribery scandal, gets 42 months in prison

William "Rick" Singer arrives Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Boston. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $19 million in restitution and forfeitures.
Brian Snyder
/
Reuters
William "Rick" Singer arrives Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Boston. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $19 million in restitution and forfeitures.

Updated January 4, 2023 at 4:45 PM ET

Rick Singer, the man behind the notorious "Varsity Blues" college admissions bribery scandal, was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $19 million — about half as restitution to the IRS and the other half as forfeitures of money and assets.

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In addition to the prison sentence, Singer also must serve three years of supervised release.

The sentence is less than the six years prosecutors had sought for the 62-year-old Singer. The defense, on the other hand, called for little to no prison time.

Singer's lawyers claim he already lost everything after the scandal came to light in March 2019 in Boston. In court filings, Singer also pleaded for leniency, saying he has "woken up every day feeling shame, remorse, and regret."

About two-thirds of the more than 50 Varsity Blues defendants were sentenced to three months or less of prison time, with many serving no time at all.

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Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the United States. He raked in some $25 million by selling what he liked to call "a side door" into elite institutions such as Yale University, Georgetown University and the University of Southern California to dozens of clients.

The scheme involved bribing college coaches to take students as athletic recruits, regardless if they were mediocre or had never even played the sport. Singer created completely fake résumés and inserted photographs of students' faces onto images of real athletes. His services also included fixing students' wrong answers on college admissions tests or having someone else sit for the students to take the test in their place.

The defense says Singer is also the reason that prosecutors were able to charge some of his former clients, who included actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin as well as business titans and big-shot lawyers.

He secretly recorded hundreds of phone calls with some 30 co-conspirators, getting them to incriminate themselves by acknowledging the payments and bribes they paid. His ruse was to tell them that the IRS was auditing the fake charitable foundation that he used to launder bribe money.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.
Jaclyn Diaz