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‘Varsity Blues’ mastermind Rick Singer pleads for leniency with sentence

(NEW YORK) — The mastermind of the nationwide college admissions cheating scandal — known by its investigative moniker “Varsity Blues” — deserves no more than six months in prison, Rick Singer’s attorneys said Wednesday in a new court filing.

Federal prosecutors, however, said Wednesday night in a sentencing memorandum that Singer deserves to spend six years in prison, far exceeding the six-month sentence sought by the defense.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2018 and has since helped federal prosecutors in Boston with their sweeping investigation into bribes paid to athletic coaches, SAT and ACT proctors, and others so students of wealthy parents could cheat their way into some of the country’s best-known schools. Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were among the more than three dozen parents charged.

Singer’s attorneys said three years probation, including 12 months of home detention, would be a sufficient sentence, but added “if incarceration is deemed necessary, a six-month sentence, followed by a three-year term of supervised release that includes community service, will satisfy the purposes of sentencing.”

Singer’s cooperation helped prosecutors secure 53 convictions, and defense attorneys said that deserved the judge’s consideration.

Prosecutors said that in addition to prison time, Singer should pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $10,668,841 and forfeit more than $3 million in cash and certain assets worth more than $5 million.

“Singer was the architect of a massive, decade-long scheme to use fraud and bribery to secure the admission of high school students to elite colleges and universities across the country,” prosecutors wrote. “Staggering in scope, Singer’s scheme was also breathtaking in its audacity and the levels of deception it involved.”

While the government’s sentencing submission acknowledged Singer’s cooperation that helped lead to the convictions of more than 50 defendants, they also suggested it does not fully mitigate the severity of his crimes.

“His corruption and manipulation of others were practically limitless. Singer is far and away the most culpable of the Varsity Blues defendants — by orders of magnitude — and is therefore deserving of the longest sentence, notwithstanding his cooperation with the government’s investigation, which as discussed below, was exceptionally valuable and, at the same time, plagued by missteps,” prosecutors wrote.

“Working closely with prosecutors and agents, he strategically planned and made recorded phone calls, attended wired meetings and completed controlled financial transactions,” the defense wrote in a sentencing memo. “His cooperation contributed to the conviction of more than fifty people and the widespread recognition of vulnerabilities in college admissions. Whatever may be said about Rick’s crimes, his cooperation has led to important reforms at great cost to his own safety and reputation.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2023.

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