The college admissions bribery scandal that shocked the country has seen its first sentence. A former sailing coach at Stanford University faced charges of racketeering conspiracy in the scandal.
The Washington Post reports that prosecutors sought steep penalties of 13 months in prison and one year of supervised release. However, a federal judge imposed a less harsh sentence of just one day in prison, a $10,000 fine and two years of supervised release, which will include six months of home confinement. The coach, John Vandemoer of California, became the first to receive a sentence out of 50 facing federal charges.
The coach‘s role in the admissions scandal
Vandemoer became involved with the mastermind of the scandal, William “Rick” Singer, in the fall of 2016. During that time, Singer directed a $500,000 payment to Stanford’s sailing program which was associated with a prospective student. However, the student never sailed on the team and was not a sailing recruit.
The sailing program then received another large payment in 2018. This $110,000 payment came on behalf of a student designated as a sailing recruit by Vandemoer. Prosecutors stated that Vandemoer agreed to accept both bribes and another $160,000 payment, associated with a student who eventually attended another school.
The “least culpable“ of the charged individuals
While Vandemoer faced serious penalties, the federal judge ultimately found the coach to be the “least culpable” of those charged. Because Vandemoer did not actually pocket the money and rather directed the money into Stanford’s sailing program, he avoided a harsher sentence. Multiple letters of support also helped the coach, which described him as a dedicated husband, father and coach.
Vandemoer’s legal team also pursued a lighter sentence due to the coach’s immediate remorse. They emphasized how he accepted responsibility, as well as how he ultimately acted to help the sailing program he was passionate about, rather than to personally gain from the money. Stanford has stated it is attempting to find a better home for the “tainted” $770,000.
More sentences to come
More coaches, parents and others will soon await sentencing. A handful of coaches have pleaded guilty to the charges they face, as have several parents and Singer himself. The two most recognizable faces of the scandal, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, have pleaded guilty and not guilty, respectively.