College Admissions Scam: Officials Spar Over Whether Parents Who Paid Most Should Get Biggest Punishment

Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli exit the Boston Federal Court house after a pre-trial hearing with Magistrate Judge Kelley at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston on Aug. 27, 2019. (Credit: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)

Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli exit the Boston Federal Court house after a pre-trial hearing with Magistrate Judge Kelley at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston on Aug. 27, 2019. (Credit: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)

As a judge in Boston prepares to sentence parents in the college admissions cheating scandal, prosecutors, defense lawyers and others are battling over unresolved questions: Is prison the right punishment? And, if so, should the amount of money a parent paid in the scam determine their time behind bars?

So far, 15 of the nearly three dozen parents charged with conspiring to commit fraud with the scam’s leader, college admission consultant William “Rick” Singer, have pleaded guilty. The first two in the group were slated to be sentenced this week, but U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani hit pause in the proceedings to resolve a stark disagreement over how she should calculate the parents’ culpability.

The dispute revolves around whether Singer caused the universities and testing companies he exploited any financial loss. Under federal sentencing guidelines, prison terms for fraud are typically pegged to a victim’s financial loss. If the loss cannot be tallied, the amount a perpetrator gained can be used instead. Singer has pleaded guilty to four felonies, acknowledging he rigged SAT and ACT exams for his clients and misrepresented their children as recruits for sports they didn’t play.

At a hearing Tuesday, Talwani pressed the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Atty. Eric Rosen, to explain his reasoning for why she should use the amount of money a parent paid into Singer’s operation to determine where the parent falls in the range of prison sentences established by the guidelines.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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