Rick Singer, organizer of Varsity Blues scandal, sentenced to 3.5 years in prison

In addition to his prison sentence, Singer was also fined more than $10 million. (Amanda Chou | Daily Trojan file photo)

William “Rick” Singer, the California businessman who orchestrated the Varsity Blues scandal, was sentenced to 3.5 years of prison in a federal court in Boston Wednesday. 

Singer’s sentence is less than the six years prosecutors recommended last week. Singer was also instructed to pay more than $10 million in fines, as was suggested by prosecutors. 

Despite Singer’s sentence falling short of the prosecutors’ recommendation, it was still the longest sentence handed down to any defendant in the scheme. It surpassed the previously highest 30-month sentence given to former Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst, whom Singer bribed millions of dollars to falsely claim Singer’s clients were tennis recruits. 

“This defendant was responsible for the most massive fraud ever perpetuated on the higher education system in the United States,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Frank said.

Prosecutors revealed the scheme, which involved Singer bribing coaches and officials at USC, Stanford, Yale, UCLA and other elite universities, in 2019 with the indictments of Singer and many of his clients, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Singer had begun cooperating with prosecutors before that, however, and prosecutors credit several other indictments related to the scheme to Singer’s assistance. 

“[Singer’s assistance] permitted the government to prosecute dozens of parents and other co-conspirators who otherwise would have escaped charges because of the historical nature of their conduct and the difficulty of proving their criminal intent,” prosecutors said.

Singer’s sentencing does not mark an end to the Varsity Blues legal proceedings. Among those still awaiting resolution is former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, who was granted a new trial after his conviction was overturned in September.