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College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues

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College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues – Over fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s most selective schools.

Federal authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying an estimated $25 million in bribes. Many parents apparently paid $200,000 and up to $6.5 million to have their children admitted to various college and universities.

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance, fashion, the food and beverage industry and other fields, were charged. Dozens, including Huffman, the Emmy-winning star of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” were arrested March 12.

The coaches worked at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the alleged scheme was discovered through an unrelated case involving an executive being investigated for securities fraud. As part of that investigation, the executive named Singer as being at the center of the alleged admissions scheme.


Rick Singer built on his career as a freelance college admissions coach to develop a successful scam selling access to elite universities. Singer offered wealthy parents direct services like falsified results on their kids’ standardized tests.

He created a vast scheme providing what he called a “side door” entry to top colleges: by donating to college athletics programs through Singer’s shell foundation, parents could essentially purchase a spot at a university by positioning their child as a fake athlete. Singer sold parents on the idea as a less expensive alternative to “back door” options involving acquiring access for a student by making a much bigger donation to a school.

Singer was riding high until an informant traded information on him to the FBI, which involved Singer in a wiretap operation to implicate his clients. As many as 50 people, including some celebrities, were indicted in the operation. This documentary tells that story.

According to CNN, he faces a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1.25 million fine. Rick Singer leaving federal court in Boston on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, after he pleaded guilty to charges against him


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College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues on Netflix

A deep dive into the fraudulent methods used by Rick Singer to get the children of rich and famous families into top U.S. universities.

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal showcases the unfair playing field for teens from wealthy families exploited to get into top universities that they otherwise woudl not have gained entrance.

These so called “elite” institutions already have very low admissions rates and are already more accessible, like top standardized test scores, to the wealthy few and to White people.

The families involved in this scam had every advantage and yet they still cheated. Reenactments show the wealthy parents scheming with mastermind Rick Siinger (portrayed in the film by Matthew Modine, but also seen in archive footage), often behind their children’s backs, to work the system by lying about their kids’ abilities, cheating on their tests, and bribing school officials.

This only works, of course, if the school officials are open to the bribes, which many were, and the scandal involved people at Yale, USC, Stanford, and more.


College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues: Stanford’s Athletics Director Bernard Muir


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College Entrance Cheating -Operation Varsity Blues: Stanford’s Athletics Director Bernard Muir

Stanford University Names Scapegoat in College Admissions Scam


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College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues biggest get is John Vandemoer, the Stanford sailing coach who was implicated in taking $610,000 in bribes and is the lone indicted person included. Vandemoer, too, cuts a hapless figure: He was, per LaPorte’s book, the eighth coach Singer targeted at Stanford, and the first to take the bait.

His legal defense was, essentially, that he just didn’t understand that he was being bribed; he was, at least, alone in giving the proceeds straight back to his university.

Vandemoer’s own attorney discusses telling him that a jury would have lapped up the evidence incriminating him.

Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer claims that Stanford’s Athletics Director Bernard Muir knew college admissions scandal ringleader Rick Singer while Singer was bribing coaches to secure wealthy children admission to elite universities, according to a Netflix documentary released on Wednesday. 

Muir is not named in the documentary, but Vandemoer refers to Stanford’s “head athletics director,” who is played by a Black man in the film.

According to Vandemoer, after Muir congratulated him on the $500,000.00 donation , the head athletic director said, “Oh, I know Rick.” Muir was the head athletic director at Stanford, a position he still remains in now. 

The University denied that Muir had any knowledge of the matter, and Muir did not respond to requests for comment. Vandemoer declined a request for comment.

Vandemoer was fired in March 2019 after pleading guilty to accepting more than $100,000 in bribes for the University’s sailing program.

During his sentencing, U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel described Vandemoer as “least culpable of all of the defendants” in the scandal. He was sentenced to one day in prison, six months of house arrest and two years of probation and charged a $10,000 fine. 


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College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues – Parent Sentencing


Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in jail after admitting that she paid $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT answers falsified as part of the scandal.

Along with the 14-day prison sentence, Huffman was fined $30,000 and ordered to do 250 hours of community service. She will be on supervised release for a year.

An affidavit said that Huffman arranged for her eldest daughter, Sophia, to take the SAT at the West Hollywood Test Center, where her answers were later corrected. Huffman then disguised the $15,000 as a charitable donation for disadvantaged young people.


Lori Loughlin paid half a million dollars to get her daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose into USC. She was sentenced to two months in prison, had to pay a $150,000 fine, do 100 hours community service, and will be under supervised release for two years. She served her sentence last year and got out in December.

Loughlin’s husband was also involved in the scandal and he got an even longer sentence. He got five months in prison (which he’s currently serving), had to pay a $500,000 fine, do 250 hours of community service, and he’ll be on supervised release for two years.


Devin Sloane, the founder and chief executive of a drinking water and wastewater systems business in Los Angeles, California, was sentenced to four months in prison, 500 hours of community service, 2 years of supervised release, and has to pay a fine of $95,000.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that Sloane paid Singer $250,000 to have his son admitted to the University of Southern California as a water polo recruit.


In September, Stephen Semprevivo, a Los Angeles-based executive at a privately held provider of outsourced sales teams, was sentenced to four months in prison, two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service, and a fine of $100,000. 

Semprevivo pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, admitting to paying Singer $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown University as a recruited tennis player.


In October, Gordon Caplan, a Connecticut-based lawyer, was sentenced to one month in prison, a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service, and a fine of $50,000.

Caplan pleaded guilty in April, admitting to paying Singer $75,000 to have his daughter’s ACT exam answers changed.

Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Caplan to eight months in jail, a year of supervised release, and a fine of $40,000. Caplan’s lawyer had asked for a two-week sentence.


Agustin Huneeus Jr., a Napa Valley vintner, was sentenced to five months in prison, 500 hours of community service, and a $100,000 fine.

Huneeus pleaded guilty in May, admitting to paying $300,000 to have his daughter’s SAT score altered and have her designated as a water polo recruit to the University of Southern California. Because of the timing of Huneeus’s indictment, his daughter was never admitted to USC.

Prosecutors had asked for a 15-month prison sentence, a year of supervised release, and a $95,000 fine. Huneeus had asked for two months in jail.


College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues – Coaches


Gordon Ernst: the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Georgetown University.
Donna Heinel: a senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California.
Ali Khosroshahin: the head women’s soccer coach at USC. He pleaded guilty in June 2019.
Laura Janke: an assistant women’s soccer coach at USC. She pleaded guilty in May 2019.
Jovan Vavic: a water-polo coach at USC.
Jorge Salcedo: the head men’s soccer coach at UCLA. He pleaded guilty in July 2020.
William Ferguson: the women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest University.
Michael Center: the head men’s tennis coach at the University of Texas at Austin. He pleaded guilty in April 2019 and plans to cooperate with prosecutors.
Rudy Meredith: the head women’s soccer coach at Yale. Meredith was the first to plead guilty, shortly after the charges were first filed in March 2019.
John Vandemoer: the sailing coach at Stanford. He pleaded guilty in March 2019.


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College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues – NO SCHOOLS NAMED IN INDICTMENT


It’s important to note that no schools were named in the indictment. Instead, coaches at select schools are the focus of the investigation.

Only one coach has been sentenced (no other coaches, AthletcicDirectors, Dean’s of Admissions or any other College or University official) former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer.

He sentenced to one day in prison, with time served. He was also sentenced to two years supervised release and has to pay a $10,000 fine.

Vandemoer was fired from Stanford and pleaded guilty to racketeering charges shortly after being indicted.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that Vandemoer accepted $610,000 in bribes to facilitate the admissions of students as salinity recruits. Court documents say the funds were put into Stanford’s sailing program.

Prosecutors had asked a federal judge in Boston to sentence Vandemoer to 13 months in prison.


See More Sentences >>


College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues – Civil Lawsuit


However, a class-action civil lawsuit has been filed by seven college students against eight top universities in connection with the massive college admissions bribery scandal that has already led to federal criminal charges earlier this week against TV stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, as well as against top business and legal executives.

The amended suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by the students accuses each of the universities of being “negligent in failing to maintain adequate protocols and security measures in place to guarantee the sanctity of the college admissions process.”

In a statement released after it filed the suit on behalf of the students, the Minneapolis-based law firm Zimmerman Reed said, “The students who filed the complaint didn’t receive what they paid for — to participate in an application process free of fraud.”

The suit claims that the universities named as defendants “knew or should have known of these corrupt practices because the funds” that were being used as bribes to gain admittance for the children of wealthy parents “were often going into University accounts, and to prominent University figures such as coaches and directors in charge of University accounts.”

Defendants in the lawsuit are Yale University, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas, Wake Forest University and Georgetown University.


College Entrance Cheating – Operation Varsity Blues Investigation


According to the Wall Street Journal, the alleged scheme was discovered through an unrelated case involving an executive being investigated for securities fraud. As part of that investigation, the executive named Singer as being at the center of the alleged admissions scheme.

The investigation and related charges were made public on March 12, 2019, by United States federal prosecutors. At least 53 people have been charged as part of the conspiracy, a number of whom pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty. Thirty-three parents of college applicants are accused of paying more than $25 million between 2011 and 2018 to William Rick Singer, organizer of the scheme, who used part of the money to fraudulently rig entrance exam test scores and bribe ollege officials.

Singer controlled the two firms involved in the scheme, Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network (also known as “The Key”). He pleaded guilty and cooperated with the (FBI) in gathering incriminating evidence against co-conspirators. He said he unethically facilitated college admission for children in more than 750 families.Singer faces up to 65 years in prison, and a fine of $1.25 million to secure admission for their children to 11 universities.

Bribery and fraud charges have a maximum term of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $250,000 fine. One month later, 16 of the parents were also indicted by prosecutors for alleged felony conspiracy to commit money laundering – a charge that has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, supervised release of three years, and a $500,000 fine.


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