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nytimes – Mark Hauser sentenced to two months in college admissions scandal

A private equity executive accused of paying $ 40,000 for someone to secretly correct his daughter’s answers to the ACT exam was sentenced Thursday to two months in prison, the latest sentence handed down in the nationwide scandal. college admissions that involved a handful of wealthy parents, including Hollywood actresses and business executives.

Executive Mark Hauser was convicted after pleading guilty last September to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Lawyers for Mr Hauser, founder of investment firm Hauser Private Equity, declined to comment on Friday. The Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

Mr Hauser’s conviction is the latest in a string of convictions in the massive college admissions scandal, the largest of its kind in Justice Department history.

Known to investigators as Operation Varsity Blues, the case became public in 2019, when charges were filed against celebrities, actors, financiers and others accused of the scheme. Over the past two years, a slew of prominent figures have been convicted of plotting to cheat exams or bribe athletic coaches to get their children into top colleges and universities.

The central figure in the scandal was William Singer, sometimes known as Rick Singer, who owned a for-profit company called Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key. The company has offered counseling and college preparation, helping wealthy families enroll their children in competitive colleges and universities.

Mr Singer, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to racketeering conspiracy and money laundering charges, told authorities he was selling a “side door” to prestigious schools for affluent families.

“If I can compare, there is a front door to enter, where a student does it on their own,” Singer said in a court appearance. “And then there’s a back door, where people go to institutional advancement and make large donations, but they’re not guaranteed. And then I created a side door that guaranteed families to come in. C So that’s what made it very appealing to so many families, is that I created a guarantee.

Also part of the scandal was Mark Riddell, a testing expert who often posed as a test proctor and took ACT and SAT exams for students.

Among the personalities involved in the case were “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. Lawyers for Ms Loughlin and Mr Giannulli said at a sentencing hearing in August that Mr Hauser, who was chairman of the board of directors for their children’s school, referred them to Mr Singer as a college counselor who could help their two daughters and guide them through the admissions process, according to court records.

Prosecutors said the couple then paid $ 500,000 to have their children admitted to the University of Southern California.

Ms Loughlin, who pleaded guilty with her husband, served a two-month sentence for her role in the scandal and her plot to get her daughters into the University of Southern California, posing as rowers . She was released from prison in December 2020. Mr. Giannulli, who prosecutors say took a more active role in the program, was sentenced to five months in prison.

According to court records and federal prosecutors’ allegations, Mr. Hauser agreed in 2016 to pay Mr. Singer $ 40,000 to have Mr. Riddell pose as a proctor during his daughter’s ACT exam and to correct secretly his answers to the tests.

Mr. Hauser’s daughter was also given extra time to take her exam, and her exam site was moved from her high school in Los Angeles to an exam center in Houston. Mr Riddell scored 31 out of 36 on the ACT for Mr Hauser’s daughter, according to court records. This score was then submitted as part of its college and university applications.

In a defense brief, Mr Hauser’s lawyers argued that since Mr Singer had provided “legitimate tutoring and academic advice” to Mr Hauser’s three older children, Mr Hauser had requested help for her youngest child, whose school performance had suffered due to medical problems. Questions. According to the note, Mr. Singer’s plans were unknown to Mr. Hauser.

“Although Mr. Hauser was involved in the plan, he was by no means the primary driver or brain,” Mr. Hauser’s lawyers wrote. “That role went to William ‘Rick’ Singer.”

In court documents, prosecutors said Mr. Hauser “was more actively involved in the scheme than some” but also “less guilty than others who repeatedly became involved in the scheme or who allowed their children to become accomplices “.

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