College Admissions Scandal

by Karren Kenney on Apr. 17, 2020


Summary: The infamous College Admissions Scandal

Federal College Admissions Scandal

The infamous 2019 college admissions scandal has garnered vast headlines in federal court the past several months as 50 individuals have been charged with varying fraud crimes, primarily, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, along with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Before the government was aware of the admissions cheating, the scheme began when ringleader of the scandal, William Singer, started offering “consultant” services to wealthy suitors who wanted to have their children admitted into prestigious universities such as USC, Stanford, and Yale. By transferring large sums of money into Singer’s charity and offshore bank accounts, parents would then be guaranteed that their child would be admitted into the school of their choosing. Singer then took the money and paid coaches, as well as college admissions counselors and test examiners, to effectively fake a student’s admission into a university as a legitimate applicant. When the federal government got wind of the situation, they immediately charged dozens of parents and college affiliates with fraud crimes tied to financial loss. 

Recommended Sentencing Levels

While it could be easy to assume that everyone involved in the scandal could be sentenced relatively similarly, federal attorneys are required to look at specific dollar amounts in connection with the crime to determine what sentence should be handed out for each alleged individual. Federal guidelines indicate that the sentencing level for wire and mail fraud increases based on the amount of money lost as a result of the scheme, meaning that the more Singer charged for his consulting fees, the higher the sentencing level would be for each separate individual involved. For instance, actress Felicity Huffman has been charged with a base offense level of 7 for her federal crime of committing mail fraud, but her sentence level is increased by 4 because the loss from the crime is more than $15,000 but not more than $40,000. See her plea agreement for the full details on the sentencing (Huffman Agreement)

Punishment From the Sentencing Level

While 19 out of the 50 individuals charged in the college admissions scandal have already pled guilty to their crimes, not all of them have received the recommended sentencing level from the federal prosecutors. Recently, John Vandemoer pled guilty to one count of federal racketeering and authorities recommended a punishment of 13 months in prison with a year of supervised release for Vandemoer’s acceptance of $610,000 in bribes. However, District Court Judge Zobel sentenced Vandemoer to a fine of $10,000, and 2 years of supervised release with 6 months of home confinement. And while it is a miracle that Vandemoer was not sentenced to any time in prison, this would not have been done without the relentless work of his attorneys. 

Representation is Critical

Vandemoer’s attorneys fought for his case against all odds, and by most regards, came out exceedingly victorious in getting him a sentence that avoided him serving any jail time. Without his representation, Vandemoer would have most likely served the full 13 months recommended by the prosecutors and would have lost many ties to his family. Any federal crime is exceedingly difficult to negotiate and should be handled with relentless effort and care by an experienced federal defense attorney. Karren Kenney, founder of Kenney Legal Defense Firm, has been practicing law for over 20 years and dealt with dozens of fraud, racketeering, and federal cases. Specializing in white collar crime and fraudulent activity, Kenney Legal Defense is the right option for any financial crime at the state or federal level. If you or a loved one is under investigation by the authorities, contact Karren Kenney at 1(855) 505-5588 today!  

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