The US college admissions scandal is the biggest case of its kind in US history.
More than 50 people, including Desperate Housewives' Felicity Huffman and Full House's Lori Loughlin, were charged with participating in the scam, with both Huffman and Loughlin, plus countless others, pleading guilty.
Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison, one year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine.
She was released from prison after just 11 days.
Loughlin was sentenced to two months in prison, two years of supervised release, a $150,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.
Netflix's Operation Varsity Blues details how the brain behind the operation, William "Rick" Singer, accepted bribes from those with extremely deep pockets – actors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and CEOs, to name just a handful – which he then gifted to college sports coaches and exam administrators as "charitable donations". In turn, their children would be offered places at the most sought-after US universities.
Singer described it as the "side door" approach, and the only straight "guarantee" of a spot at one of the States' most prestigious academic institutions.
Achieving a university spot on your own merit was referred to as the "front door", and parents donating money in the hope that it would give their child an edge was referred to as the "back door", something which is entirely legal.
In the documentary, a statement from Stanford University asserts that no amount of money has an influence on admissions.
Rick Singer pleaded guilty back in March 2019 to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of justice.
"At the time he never considered what he was doing was a bribe and he had several arguments with the agents over the word bribe," read an FBI memo (via Variety) written following further questioning of Singer. "He thought he was doing something wrong but legal, but didn't know for sure until his attorney explained that it was illegal. Singer stated that he always knew he was doing a quid pro quo, and now he understands that is the same as bribery."
But he hasn't spent any time behind bars and according to the US Department of Justice, "there is no sentencing hearing scheduled at this time".
On pleading guilty, Singer has been cooperating with the authorities.
The lawyer of John Vandemoer (the former head coach of the Stanford University sailing team who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit racketeering) noted that Singer's cooperation won't be complete until the very last person charged in the conspiracy is sentenced.
CNN reported that he is looking at a maximum of 65 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $1.25m dollar fine – his scam reportedly racked up around $25 million.
In July 2020, USA Today reported that Singer had been enrolled at Grand Canyon University in Arizona until July 2020. He was studying for a doctorate in psychology and hoped to complete it "some time in 2021 or 2022", according to his lawyer Donald Heller.
But he only finished five out of the 20 classes required to complete the course in full.
Heller described it as an "effort to change his life for the future".
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