Folsom woman employed in college admissions scheme agrees to guilty plea

Christel Deskins

A Folsom woman has agreed to plead guilty for her role in a sweeping college administration bribery scandal that has swept up a number of wealthy people, college coaches and celebrities. Mikaela Sanford, 34, of Folsom, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, the U.S. Attorney’s […]

A Folsom woman has agreed to plead guilty for her role in a sweeping college administration bribery scandal that has swept up a number of wealthy people, college coaches and celebrities.

Mikaela Sanford, 34, of Folsom, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston announced Friday.

Sanford worked for Rick Singer, the 59-year-old California man who federal investigators say ran a standardized test cheating racket through his college counseling business and nonprofit.

Prosecutors say Sanford took online classes for students so the students could submit the grades Sanford earned in their names as part of their application packages to colleges and universities.

Sanford also helped fake athletic profiles and other documents to bolster students’ college applications to make the students appear to be highly successful high school athletes when, in fact, they were not, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors will recommend a sentence at the low end of the guidelines: one year of supervised release, a fine, forfeiture of $67,062 and restitution. Her hearing isn’t scheduled.

Sanford was arraigned in Sacramento in March, along with Steven Masera, 69, another of Singer’s employees also from Folsom. Masera, an accountant, pleaded guilty in June and faces similar penalties. Prosecutors say he agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Both originally faced up to 20 years in prison plus a $250,000 fine or twice the gross profit collected from their schemes.

Singer got his start in the business helping high school kids in the Sacramento area navigate their way into college. He now lives in Newport Beach.

Singer’s Edge College and Career Network, and his nonprofit Key Worldwide Foundation were targets in the federal government’s “Operation Varsity Blues.” Prosecutors alleged he used the nonprofit to launder money from his wealthy clients, and used that tax-free money to bribe college officials.

Singer’s already pleaded guilty to four felonies.

The sweeping indictments shed light on a world in which wealthy people tried to game the admission system to get their unexceptional children into prestigious schools.

Nearly 30 parents, including “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and “Desperate Housewives” actor Felicity Huffman, have accepted plea deals.

Huffman served a short prison sentence after pleading guilty in May.

The indictments also included a number of coaches at prominent universities across the country accused of accepting Singer’s cash to admit students purporting to be athletes.

The list included a volleyball coach at Wake Forest; a senior associate athletic director and women’s soccer coach at the University of Southern California; and a University of Texas men’s tennis coach.

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