College Admissions Scandal Sees First Guilty Plea From A Parent

Fans of Lori Loughlin appear outside the courthouse
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Following the massive indictment in the college admissions bribery scandal that was announced earlier this month, the first of the parents charged in the case has pleaded guilty. Multiple coaches involved with the case, as well as the facilitator of the scheme, had entered guilty pleas previously.

Per Bloomberg News, Peter Jan Sartorio, a packaged-food entrepreneur from Northern California, has agreed to plead guilty in the case. Sartorio was charged with paying $15,000 for someone to pretend to proctor the ACT college entrance exam. He was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

It’s not clear yet what type of sentence Sartorio will receive, or what that means for the outlook of other defendants in the case. Two other parents accused in the case, water treatment executive Devin Sloane and marketing expert Jane Buckingham, are in talks for plea deals, according to Bloomberg.

John Vandemoer, the sailing coach at Stanford University, agreed to plead guilty in March, per NBC Bay Area, to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, the women’s soccer coach at Yale, also pleaded guilty last week and admitted that he had accepted more than $1 million in kickbacks, per Fox News. Meredith also agreed to cooperate and has resigned from his position with the university.

William Rick Singer, the accused ringleader of the conspiracy, pleaded guilty early on and cooperated with authorities, in bringing indictments against many of the others charged in the case.

Sartorio was one of 33 parents charged in the case, two of whom were well-known actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

The scandal, which was referred to by law enforcement as Operation Varsity Blues, entailed wealthy parents essentially paid Singer, through his companies Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network, to obtain fraudulent admission to well-known colleges.

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Aspects of the scheme included setting up fake athletic profiles for certain students, many of whom did not play the sports in question, in order to be admitted to college under the lower standards of athletic scholarships.

Per The Los Angeles Times, the scheme first came to light when a Los Angeles man named Morrie Tobin, who was under investigation in an unrelated securities fraud case, told the government about the college admissions fraud.

The famous actresses in the case, Loughlin and Huffman, may very well face prison time themselves for their roles in the fraud, according to an analysis by EW.