The college admissions scandal has been the stuff of headlines since the story broke in March 2019. At its essence, the college admissions scandal involved wealth parents who engaged in illegal activities in order to gain admission of their children to high-rated colleges and universities in the United States. A question being asked by the media, the general public, and those indicted in the case is will the defendants in the college admissions scandal do prison time?
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The Nuts and Bolts of the College Admissions Scandal
What has become known as the college admissions scandal is the brainchild of William “Rick” Singer, a man who started a college counseling business called The Key in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times. In fact, the college consulting business proved to be a sham operation through which wealth parents paid money to gain admission to institutions of higher education for their children. This was accomplished through criminal conduct that included bribery, the creation of false student resumes and transcripts, and cheating on college admissions examinations, among other schemes.
Will Defendants in the Case do Time?
A number of factors come into play when discussing the question of whether the defendants in the college admissions scandal will do time. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines generally govern the penalties imposed in criminal cases in the federal court system. With that said, judges have discretion when it comes to imposing sentences and can deviate from the established guidelines.
The primary factors that come into play in predicting whether the defendants in this case will face prison time are the specific crime charged against a defendant, whether a defendant cooperated and accepted responsibility, the amount of money at play in a specific case, and the criminal history of an individual defendant.
The man at the center of the case, Rick Singer, evidently has already entered into a plea deal with the government. He appears to be cooperating in providing evidence against the other individuals charged in the scam. With that in mind, he is likely to face prison time, but the length of his sentence will be mitigated by his assistance in the prosecution of the other defendants.
The parents charged in the case, including actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman run the risk of facing prison time, one more than the other. The case against Loughlin involves $500,000 while the case against Huffman involves $15,000. Assuming neither woman has a criminal record and both defendants end up cooperating, Loughlin is almost certain to face some jail time because of the amount of money involved in her case. Huffman made avoid prison time but may face a term of probation.
The defendants associated with colleges and universities who took bribes in the college admissions scandal are at risk for sentences if convicted that include incarceration. The same factors come into play in these cases, with school staff members who took larger bribes facing longer sentences.
Individuals involved in cheating on college admission examinations are likely the group of people involved in the scandal who may face the lowest risk of jail time. Bear in mind that the U.S. attorney has yet to make a decision about seeking indictments of the students involved in the college admissions scandal.