A former Newport Beach college admissions consultant who orchestrated a $25 million nationwide bribery scheme to get children of wealthy parents into USC, UCLA and other top colleges was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 years behind bars for his role as mastermind of the “Varsity Blues” scandal that ensnared coaches, business executives and Hollywood celebrities.
William “Rick” Singer, 62, was also sentenced in Boston federal court to three years of supervised release following his prison term. Judge Rya Zobel also ordered Singer to pay $10 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Singer pleaded guilty in March 2019 to charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
As part of the scheme dubbed operation “Varsity Blues” by federal prosecutors, Singer had dozens of parents make “donations” totaling about $25 million to his sham charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, to pay for the fraud. Parents were able to deduct the payments from their income taxes, thereby defrauding the IRS, prosecutors said.
Parents, coaches, business executives and two Hollywood celebrities were among 57 defendants implicated in the cheating scandal, in which parents paid Singer to have their children’s entrance-exam scores doctored. In other cases, students were falsely admitted to elite universities as athletic recruits, even though they never had any experience in the sports for which they were being recruited.
The scandal led to prison time for Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman and “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin.
In a written statement to the court, Singer apologized “for the pain I caused the students and their families, and the universities and testing agencies.” He wrote that he “can only hope that, once I have served whatever sentence the court determines is appropriate, the terms of my supervised release will allow me to work/volunteer in service to others and particularly to underserved youth.”
Singer’s sentence is the longest handed down in the case.
Singer, a Santa Monica native, lost his Newport Beach mansion as a result of the case and currently lives in a St. Petersburg, Florida, trailer park, his lawyer wrote in a sentencing memorandum.