A California woman has been sentenced to five weeks in prison for paying a co-conspirator $9,000 to take online college classes for her son, the Los Angeles Times reported. Karen Littlefair also allegedly demanded a discount when the co-conspirator only earned a C in one class.
Littlefair is one of the many individuals caught up in the college admissions scandal allegedly orchestrated by William "Rick" Singer, who is accused of helping wealthy and powerful people game the system to get their children into elite universities or get them other forms of preferential treatment in college. Two of the highest-profile names caught up in the controversy were Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Littlefair doesn't have as high a profile as those two women, though she's known around Southern California as a socialite, hosting fundraisers for Republican candidates at her Lido Island home.
Littlefair pleaded guilty to a single charge of wire fraud and admitted to a narrow set of facts, negotiated between her legal team and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston.
When Littlefair's son got placed on academic probation at Georgetown University in 2017, she reportedly contacted Singer, who agreed to have his employees take four online classes for him in exchange for $9,000. When Singer billed Littlefair $3,000 for one class, she supposedly complained that the person taking the test got a C and said she deserved a discount, adding that "the experience was a nightmare."
Singer didn't budge on the bill, telling Littlefair that the experience had been "a nightmare for everyone," as reported.
In March 2019, the college admissions scandal broke, and Singer started naming alleged co-conspirators in an effort to reduce his own eventual prison sentence. Littlefair was one of the people Singer named, and she, too, was charged and convicted months later.
Her attorney, Kenneth B. Julian, asked U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs for leniency, asking for probation instead of prison for his client.
Littlefair's son, meanwhile, has resigned from his job with the U.S. Treasury Department, and his Georgetown degree has been revoked. The family has been "publicly humiliated," Julian wrote.
"The curse of carrying around a felony conviction is a significant punishment and deterrent that promotes respect for the law," he said.
Burroughs, however, disagreed with Julian's recommendation for probation, and instead sentenced Littlefair to five weeks in prison. She'll also have to pay a $209,000 fine and serve 300 hours of community service.
Singer, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to four felonies last March and is awaiting sentencing.