Rick Singer is given 3.5 years in prison for his leading role in a nationwide college admission conspiracy.
“This defendant was responsible for the most massive fraud ever perpetuated on the higher education system in the United States,” said prosecutor Stephen Frank to a criminal court judge on Wednesday, speaking about the accused Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to dozens of charges related to the conspiracy.
“It was a scheme that was breathtaking in its scale and its audacity. It has literally become the stuff of books and made-for-TV movies,” Frank continued.
For years, Singer laundered money through a sham charity to pay off college officials and coaches to ensure that his clients, who were mostly wealthy celebrities, got their children into the schools they chose. He took more than $25 million from his clients.
Entrance exam administrators and proctors were paid to falsify students’ test scores. Coaches in sports like soccer, sailing, tennis, and track accepted bribes to pretend to recruit students as athletes, even if they didn’t play at all. Fake profiles were made so anyone googling the students would find pictures of them in uniform, stats of games that never occurred.
To double down on the fraud, because the sham charity was registered, the parents paying these bribes were allowed to write the money spent off on their taxes while Singer paid no tax on it at all.
“My moral compass was warped by the lessons my father taught me about competition. I embraced his belief that embellishing or even lying to win was acceptable as long as there was victory. I should have known better,” said Rick Singer after his sentencing, shifting blame to his deceased father in what was meant to be be an apology.
Dozens of others, including officials, coaches, and parents, have pleaded guilty to charges related to this conspiracy. Before Singer, the longest sentence handed down was 2.5 years to tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who took over $3 million in bribe money.