William "Rick" Singer, the mastermind behind the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, was sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison on Wednesday, nearly four years after the scandal was publicly exposed. Singer had pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US, and obstruction of justice, and agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation. The scandal involved wealthy parents paying large sums to Singer in order to facilitate cheating on standardized tests and bribe university coaches in order to secure spots for their children at elite universities. Singer owned the college counseling and prep business "The Key" and was the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation charity, through which he carried out the scheme.
In addition to Singer, over 50 people were charged in the case, including coaches, test administrators, and celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. With a few exceptions, almost all of them pleaded guilty and served prison terms ranging from weeks to months. Singer's sentence is the longest in the case, with the former Georgetown tennis coach receiving a 2.5 year prison term and Huffman and Loughlin serving 14 days and 2 months, respectively.
In court, federal prosecutor Stephen E. Frank described Singer's role in coordinating the scheme as "singular" in the history of the country and the "most massive fraud perpetrated on the higher education system." Singer's defense attorney highlighted his "unparalleled" cooperation with authorities, which included allowing FBI agents to wiretap his phone and wearing a wire to in-person meetings. However, Singer also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for tipping off several of his clients about the investigation. In addition to the prison term, Singer was also sentenced to 3 years of supervised release and the forfeiture of over $10 million. He is due to report to prison on February 27.