The body count of participants in the largest college admission scandal of all time continues to pile up.
The chief financial officer of mastermind William "Rick" Singer's firm has now pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and is cooperating with federal prosecutors, according to Bloomberg. Steven Masera, 69, assisted Singer in laundering fees and bribes that parents paid to fix their children’s college entrance exams and designate non-athletes as recruited athletes to get them preferential treatment. The cash was funneled through a sham charity called the Key Worldwide Foundation.
Masera was in charge of billing the parents, many of whose children were illegitimately admitted to schools like Georgetown, Yale, Stanford and USC. The government claims that Masera helped launder between $9.5 million and $25 million. He was also responsible for sending actress Lori Loughlin and her husband an invoice in 2017 seeking a $200,000 payment just one week after one of their daughters was accepted to USC.
The invoice read: "Thank you for your pledge to The Key Worldwide Foundation. Your pledge is now due. ... Our receipt letter will go out to you upon full payment."
For his cooperation, prosecutors have agreed to recommend that Masera serve the "low end" of 57 to 71 months in prison. The US has agreed to give him immunity from prosecution for information he provided in an April 10 letter in hopes of leniency in sentencing. It is unclear from the agreement with prosecutors what information Masera may have for prosecutors that they don’t already know or that may lead to more arrests.
He is the latest to plead guilty in the admissions scandal, joining 4 coaches and 13 parents. Last month we reported that former USC soccer coach Laura Janke was cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty.
Janke's guilty plea stood in contrast with our prior update on the scandal, where we noted that some parents had decided to "punch back" and vigorously defend themselves in court. “I expect a lot more guilty pleas,” Diane Ferrone, a criminal defense lawyer in New York who isn’t involved in the case, told Bloomberg last month. Looks like she was right.
Several weeks before that, we noted that parents charged in the scheme were seeking out "prison life consultants" to find out what life would be like in the big house.
In the beginning of April, a total of 16 parents were indicted. Another 19 parents, including Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are fighting the charges against them and are expected at pre-trial hearings this Monday. Singer will be sentenced September 19.