By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER
BOSTON — A former head sailing coach at Stanford avoided prison time for agreeing to help students get into the elite university as recruited athletes in exchange for money for his sailing program, a judge ruled Wednesday.
John Vandemoer is the first person to be sentenced in the college admissions bribery case that exposed the lengths that some wealthy parents will go to get their children into the nations top schools.
U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel sentenced him to one day in prison, which he was deemed to have served. He will pay a $10,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring.
Zobel said she believed it was important that Vandemoer be punished because “its too easy to do this kind of thing.” But she said she didnt believe he needed to serve time behind bars, noting the powerful letters of support he received and calling him probably the “least culpable” of those charged in the case because he didnt take any of the money for himself.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told the judge that a prison sentence was necessary to send a message to other defendants charged in the case and other people considering on cheating the college admissions system, which he said is “crying out for reform.”
“If we fail to take these crimes seriously, if you give just a slap on the wrist instead of real punishment. … We are short changing not only the criminal justice system, but all those kids in high school who are working hard every day in an effort to improve their own lives and to get into the best school they can honestly and through hard work,” Rosen said.
Prosecutors had sought more than a year behind bars. Vandemoer pleaded guilty in March on the same day that charges were announced in the so-called “Operation Varsity Blues” case against 50 people, including business executives and Hollywood actresses.
Vandemoer stood to address the judge and apologized to his family, friends, the sailing team and Stanford. “I am devastated that the program and the sport would be looked at poorly because of my actions,” he said.
His lawyers had urged the judge to keep him out of prison, noting the coach quickly accepted responsibility for his actions and didnt pocket any of the money for himself. They say Vandemoer was seeking only to “help the sailing program he loved.”
The admissions consultant at the center of the scheme, Rick Singer, tried to get a student from China into Stanford through Vandemoers sailing program in 2016, authorities say. It was too late to secure a spot for the student as a recruit, but the student got in through the normal process.
After the student was admitted, Singer gave $500,000 to Vandemoers program to secure his help for future applicants, prosecutors say. Stanford has since been expelled that student.
Vandemoer also got $110,000 for the sailing program from Singer last year in exchange for labeling a prospective student as a recruit, prosecutors say. The student ended up going to another school.
He later agreed to help another student get in as a recruit in exchange for $500,000, proseRead More – Source