Mastermind of ‘Varsity Blues’ college infidelity scandal to be sentenced


BOSTON– William “Rick” Singer, the ringleader of a nationwide college admissions scandal, is set to be sentenced by a federal judge on Wednesday.

The former college admissions consultant pleaded guilty in March 2019 to helping the parents of dozens of wealthy high school students cheat their way into elite colleges.

His sentence will come nearly four years after his plea, as he helped prosecutors convict his former clients, including high-profile executives, fashion moguls and Hollywood actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Singer, 62, pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors have requested a six-year prison sentence, far more than the maximum six-month sentence requested by Singer’s attorneys.

His sentence nearly marks the end of “Operation Varsity Blues”, the nickname for the prosecutors’ investigation that uncovered a cheating ring of around 50 defendants.

Among those sued were parents who paid Singer more than $6 million, Ivy League coaches who opened up fictitious spots on their rosters for Singer’s clients in return for bribes, and test administrators who have been paid to falsify candidates’ entrance exam results.

Prosecutors said Singer was the mastermind of the decades-long program, which has since become the subject of at least four books, a Lifetime movie and a Netflix documentary.

He convinced wealthy clients to bribe him in order to help their children attend schools including Yale, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, prosecutors said. Singer then funneled the money through his charity which he claimed would support disadvantaged young people, allowing his co-conspirators to write off their dues as tax deductions.

Singer was “exceptionally valuable” after his plea deal, according to prosecutors’ sentencing memorandum. He agreed to have his phone tapped to help charge his former clients and accomplices, allowing the government to secure the convictions.

Yet his cooperation was fraught with missteps, prosecutors wrote. He met in person with at least six of his former clients to warn them of the investigation and was later found guilty of obstruction of justice.

“He was the architect and mastermind of a criminal enterprise that massively corrupted the integrity of the college admissions process,” prosecutors wrote in the memorandum.

“Without Singer, the scheme would never have happened,” they added.

In his own memorandum, Singer wrote that he lost his possessions, including a sprawling mansion in Orange County, California, which he traded for a modest home in a Florida trailer park.

“I reflected on my very poor judgment and criminal activities which have increasingly become my way of life,” he wrote. “I woke up every day feeling shame, remorse and regret.”

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.


ABC News

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