Stanford’s former sailing coach, John Vandemoer, will receive just one day in prison for his role in the college admissions scandal, according to NBC News. This is the first sentencing to occur as a result of the sweeping scandal surrounding William Rick Singer, the ringleader who helped children of rich clients cheat their way into university.
Before his sentencing on Wednesday, Vandemoer had already pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy for accepting $770,000 in bribes on behalf of Stanford’s sailing program, in order to falsely represent Singer’s clients as elite sailing team recruits. Vandemoer had accepted three separate bribes of $500,000, $110,000 and $160,000 between fall 2016 and October 2018. Vandemoer was fired from Stanford on March 12th after news of the scandal broke.
U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobe was given a recommended sentencing of 13 months in prison for Vandemoer, but Zobe ultimately sided with Vandemoer’s defense attorneys, who argued one day in prison was time served because Vandemoer had given the bribes over to Stanford’s program rather than pocketing them.
“It cannot be overstated: all parties agree that Mr. Vandemoer did not personally profit from the scheme,” wrote defense lawyer Robert Fisher. “Mr. Singer sent Mr. Vandemoer money, and he consistently turned that money over to Stanford.”
“I want to be seen as someone who takes responsibility for mistakes,” Vandemoer stated in court. “I want to tell you how I intend to live from this point forward. I will never again lose sight of my values.”
The scandal — which was the result of a FBI investigation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” — gained international attention after actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were indicted. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they paid $500,000 to bribe their two daughters into the University of Southern California. Huffman has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud; prosecutors argue that she spent $15,000 to change wrong answers on her daughter’s SAT tests.
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