The ringleader of a historic pay-to-play scheme for wealthy parents to get their teens into top universities is due to be sentenced next week.
Prosecutors are seeking six years in prison, more than $19 million in fines and confiscation of assets from William “Rick” Singer, the designer of the college admissions scam. Singer’s attorneys are seeking a stay of probation due to home arrest and community service.
Singer was one of the last to be convicted in connection with a decade-long scandal that led to more than 50 arrests and convictions, including those who used Singer’s services to bring children to the elite. It included celebrities like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin who enrolled them in the school.
His plans include paying test proctors and administrators to cheat on college entrance exams and bribing college athletic coaches and administrators to force applicants into sports based on forged credentials. That included designating them as recruits, court documents show.
Singer, who has been working with federal prosecutors since September 2018, told the court he feels responsible and ashamed of his actions.
“I am reflecting on my very poor judgment and the criminal behavior that has become more and more my way of life. I wake up every day feeling shame and remorse and regret,” Singer said. Ahead of the judgment, he wrote in recent court filings. “I accept full responsibility for my crimes.”
Reflecting on his own wealth-sacrificing plans, he sees his motivation as being a fierce competitiveness to “win at all costs.”
Singer said, “By ignoring what was morally, ethically, and legally correct, and prioritizing winning what I thought was the ‘game’ of college admissions, I lost everything.
In their respective sentencing memos, prosecutors acknowledged Singer’s cooperation with the government as “historic” and “extremely important.”
In the months leading up to federal officials’ announcement of Operation Varsity Blues, Singer submitted online communications and documents, voluntarily recorded calls with customers and officials, and used direct telegraph lines with several people. did.
Still, according to prosecutors, his cooperation wasn’t perfect.
Singer “not only obstructed the investigation by leaking information to at least six customers, but also failed to comply with government directives by deleting text messages and using an unauthorized mobile phone.” The judgment memorandum states:
Given the “problematic” cooperation, prosecutors say the “most guilty participant” in the scheme should serve six years in prison as a deterrent to the singer’s future seduction.
“There are no licensing requirements for college admissions coaches, and there is no way to prevent Singer from returning to what she herself characterizes as a criminal ‘way of life,'” the prosecutor wrote. “The singer will undoubtedly face situations and opportunities that force him to choose right or wrong. It is necessary to protect society from his wrongdoing.”
Singer pleaded guilty in March 2019 to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to deceive the United States and obstruction of justice.
His attorney asked the court for a relatively lenient three-year probation period, including 12 months of home detention and 750 hours of community service.
“Alternatively, if it is determined that imprisonment is necessary, the sentencing objective will be met with a six-month prison term followed by three years of supervised release, including community service,” the defense team said. the memo said.
Prosecutors also asked the court to order Singer to pay the IRS more than $10.6 million in damages and $3.4 million in forfeitures, in addition to seizing more than $5.3 million in assets.
Singer funneled money raised from the admissions system into bogus charities, and clients disguised payments as “charity donations,” conveniently doubling tax breaks for parents who enroll their children in prestigious schools.
“Singer received over $25 million from clients and paid bribes totaling over $7 million. Singer’s plan, staggering in scope, was also breathtaking in its audacity and the level of deception that went with it.His corruption and manipulation of others was virtually limitless. ‘ said the prosecution’s judgment memo.
The 62-year-old singer, who has been out on bail since pleading guilty, lives in a senior-friendly trailer park in St. Petersburg, Florida.
He has already paid $1,213,000 against a forfeiture judgment of $3.4 million expected from the proceeds of the sale of his residence, according to court documents. According to his sentencing memo, he was unable to get a job during his release before his trial because the case received national media attention.
His sentencing was postponed for years as the rest of the case passed through the legal system, allowing the court to consider the “full extent” of the mastermind’s cooperation with his associates and clients.
A sentencing hearing scheduled for this summer was then postponed due to the unexpected death of his attorney. He is due Wednesday afternoon in Boston federal court.