Another one of the parents was sentenced Wednesday in the college admissions scandal, but this time, it’s the longest sentence in the massive prosecution — so far.
Insurance executive Toby MacFarlane must spend six months behind bars after admittedly paying a total of $450,000 to get his son and daughter into the University of Southern California, according to The San Diego Tribune. Does any of this sound vaguely familiar?
The case carries some parallels with that of actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli. They paid $500,000 to get their two daughter’s into USC, prosecutors said. Dozens of people have been charged in participating in a nationwide scheme in which wealthy parents used their wealth to buy their children a spot in top schools. It was led by ringleader-turned-government-witness William “Rick” Singer. Tactics included cheating on admissions test, and over-hyping sometimes nonexistent athletic histories. It grabbed widespread attention in part because of Loughlin’s involvement. She made a name for herself playing “Aunt Becky” on the show Full House and its follow-up Fuller House.
Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty to all charges, including money laundering conspiracy. Of course, they are hardly the only parents implicated in the scheme. MacFarlane’s lawyer describe this defendant as a senior vice president of sale for “relatively small but highly successful title insurance firms,” according to the Tribune.
The defendant here spent a total of $450,000 to get his daughter and son into USC. According to court findings, MacFarlane paid to get his daughter into school as a top soccer player even though she was already considered an excellent student. His 5’5″ son, who only played a year on the high school varsity basketball team, was presented as being 6’1″ and as being on the team for four years.
For comparison’s sake, Loughlin and her husband allegedly paid $500,000 to get their daughters into college, presenting them as recruits to the crew team even though the children didn’t compete in crew.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton leaned in hard during the sentencing on Thursday. He called Macfarlane a “thief.”
“Higher education in this country aspires to be a meritocracy,” he said, according to USA Today. “Those who work the hardest or make the best grades rightfully get accepted into the best schools. You had the audacity and the self-aggrandizing impudence to use your wealth to cheat and lie your way around the rules that apply to everyone else.”
Gorton is considered to be one of the tougher judges when it comes to sentencing in the District of Massachusetts--and defense attorneys for Varsity Blues clients have accused prosecutors of “judge-shopping” by steering cases to Gorton.
MacFarlane’s attorney sought a lighter sentence, saying the defendant made these bad decisions while contending with a divorce, depression, and anxiety. [Image via Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images]