‘Operation Varsity Blues’ Architect Rick Singer Sentenced For Celeb-Heavy College Bribery Scam



Almost four years after the FBI swooped in on Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and other well-heeled parents who tried to bribe their kids’ way into elite colleges, the man who masterminded the whole scheme today finally faced justice.

In federal court in Boston this afternoon, Rick Singer was sentenced to three and a half years behind bars and ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution to the IRS. Having fallen far from his top tier school pathway perch to living in a Florida trailer park for seniors, 62-year old Singer was also ordered Wednesday by Judge Rya W. Zobel to hand over a significant amount of personal assets.

“I lost my ethical values and have so much to regret,” the once high-flying Key Worldwide Foundation boss said in a brief statement in court today. “To be frank, I am ashamed of myself.”

Termed “Operation Varsity Blues” by the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and other law enforcement, the multi-million-dollar scam by Singer provided faked or cheated test results, sports team placements and other illicit methods for the likes of Oscar nominee Huffman and Full House vet Loughlin to get their unqualified kids into top schools.

After months cooperating with the feds in their probe of the scheme, Singer pleaded guilty in March 2019 to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. That same month was when a 200-page indictment that snagged more than 30 parents nationwide was made public.

That sweep saw Huffman sentenced in September 2019 to two weeks in a federal prison. Relatively light compared to what other parents were given, the leniency came from Huffman having made an agreement with prosecutors almost from the moment she was arrested. The short sentence also came out of the fact that Huffman had handed over just $15,000 to Singer, as opposed to the half a million Loughlin and her fashion designer spouse Mossimo Giannulli paid out for their daughters.

Along with hefty fines, the unrepentant When Calls the Heart actress and her husband were sentenced to two months and five months respectively for their participation in the scam. The couple gave $500,000 to Singer and his phony Foundation to have “their offspring designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew,” as the March 2019 indictment revealed.

Hollywood being Hollywood, both Huffman and Loughlin got their careers back after their jailhouse stints and some time out of the limelight. Hit with the longest sentence of all involved in the case, Singer won’t likely bounce back so strong.

Certainly part of today’s sentence had to come out of Singer slipping intel to a number of parents back in 2019 that there was an investigation underway, even as he was in theory cooperating with law enforcement. That dud move is what tacked the obstruction of justice charge onto the list for Singer.

In that context, prosecutors in U.S. Attorney Rachel S. Rollins’ office sought to have Singer sentenced to a prison stint of 6.5 to eight years behind bars. With the sentencing delayed by the pandemic and the death of one of Singer’s lawyers, the defense asked for just six months in prison for their client, plus supervised release of three years and some community service.

Today’s final sentence made it clear the defense came up short.