A former Stanford University sailing coach on Wednesday became the first person to be sentenced in a sweeping college admissions scam involving bribery, inflated test scores and phony sports recruits.
John Vandemoer was sentenced to just one day for his part in the so-called “Varsity Blues” scandal, NBC News reported. Though the government had pushed for a 13-month sentence, U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel in Boston sided with Vandemoer’s defense attorneys. However, the disgraced coach won’t actually see any time behind bars since the judge dismissed the one day as already served.
Instead, Vandemoer has been ordered to serve two years of supervised release, six months of which will be under house arrest, The Associated Press reported. He will also pay a fine of $10,000.
Vandemoer pleaded guilty in March to one count of racketeering conspiracy involving $770,000 in bribes he arranged for the sailing program. According to CNN, he also designated two of the elite California university’s applicants as sailing recruits, even though they had no experience. University officials said neither individual finished the application process.
Once the charges against Vandemoer were made public, Stanford fired the coach, calling the revelations “nothing short of appalling.”
“The conduct reported in this case is absolutely contrary to Stanford’s values, and to the norms this university has lived by for decades,” university President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell said in a joint statement. “Today’s news is a shock exactly because it so clearly violates our institutional expectations for ethical conduct.”
In remarks delivered outside the courthouse on Wednesday, Vandemoer vowed to accept responsibility for his actions and their consequences, then “move forward with my life.”
“A big part of my coaching philosophy has always been that it’s not the mistake that defines you, rather it’s what you do afterwards,” he said. “I’m holding true to those words now, faced with my biggest mistake.”
According to The New York Times, Vandemoer did not keep any of the bribes for himself, unlike others charged in the scandal. Stanford was the only institution involved in which all of the funds linked to the scheme were contributed to university programs.
Prosecutors said that at other schools, including UCLA, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest University, coaches or businesses pocketed a portion of the money.
The scandal gained national attention earlier this year after implicating “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman.
Huffman pleaded guilty in May to spending $15,000 to falsify her daughter’s SAT results, but Loughlin and Giannulli have maintained their innocence, pleading not guilty in April to charges of money laundering conspiracy and mail fraud conspiracy.
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