Varsity Blues organizer Rick Singer nears sentencing

The Bovard Auditorium photographed during the day. There are trees around it and the sky is blue.
Federal prosecutors recommended Wednesday that Singer be sentenced to six years in prison and fined more than $10 million. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan file photo)

Rick Singer will face a judge next week to be sentenced for his role in orchestrating the 2019 Operation Varsity Blues scandal, in which wealthy parents exchanged bribes for their children’s fraudulent admission into USC and other elite universities. 

In advance of the sentencing, federal prosecutors recommended Wednesday that Singer be sentenced to six years in prison and fined more than $10 million. 

This would be the longest sentence handed to anyone involved in the scandal, more than doubling the previous high of 30 months, the sentence given to former Georgetown University tennis coach George Ernst. Prosecutors argued that Singer deserves the longest sentence of all the defendants implicated because he organized the entire scheme across multiple universities. 

“As the orchestrator and leader of the scheme, the most culpable participant in it, and the defendant who profited from it the most, Singer deserves a sentence significantly exceeding the high end of [the range of previous sentences],” wrote prosecutors in their sentencing memo. 

Prosecutors also cited the need to deter future similar crimes, writing that the sentence “should serve as a warning to anyone who might consider picking up where he left off.”

Singer facilitated more than seven million dollars in bribes to employees at several schools, including former USC coaches for water polo and soccer. The scheme involved cheating on standardized exams and bribing school officials to designate otherwise unqualified students as recruited athletes to gain admission. 

Two of Singer’s highest profile clients, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin, served brief prison sentences in 2019 and 2020, respectively. 

Singer’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in a federal court in Boston.