BOSTON — Devin Sloane, a Los Angles business executive, was sentenced Tuesday to four months in prison for paying $250,000 to get his son accepted into the University of Southern California as a bogus water polo recruit.
He’s the next parent to be sentenced in Boston federal court at the country’s college admissions scandal after actress Felicity Huffman received 14 days in prison this season.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani additionally sentenced Sloane into 500 hours of community service over two decades plus a $95,000 fine.
“Just because you are a fantastic person doesn’t mean you don’t commit a crime when you do those things,” Talwani said. “I return to the action you chose in bribing a school official. Bribing a school officer is a serious offense. You are not a repeat participant, but that which you did involve your son or daughter.”
Sloane, 53, is the founder and CEO of waterTALENT, a water treatment company. The judge ordered him to report to prison Dec. 3.
Sloane and his group of attorneys declined to comment leaving the courthouse.
The lengthier prison term for Sloane compared to Huffman means parents who took part in the recruitment plot rather than the testing scam could be in line for tougher sentences. Parents made larger payments to Rick Singer, the admissions plot’s mastermind, to take part in the recruiting plot, which ensured a seat in a university or college.
Federal prosecutors had advocated that Sloane get one year and a day in prison as well as some $75,000 fine and 12 months of supervised release. Sloane’s attorneys said he must be sentenced to 2,000 hours of community service rather than prison and proposed he launch and manage a Special Olympics initiative at independent colleges.
The judge rejected that idea, noting that Sloane has an exemplary record of community service. “I believe those are very good features,” she explained. “But I don’t understand how it’s punitive.”
“I really don’t think that independent school children is the focus of the instance,” Talwani said when Sloane’s lead attorney, Nathan Hochman, proposed the proposal could be a way to help students harmed from the college admission case. “That is about as tone-deaf as I’ve heard.”
‘Are parents doing so for their kids or their own status?’
In a deal with prosecutors, Sloane pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Sloane choked up addressing the judge Tuesday and apologized to his loved ones and also the judge. “There aren’t any words to justify my behavior,” he stated, adding that he chooses”complete responsibility” for his actions.
“Many folks see this as a case of urgency and arrogance. In my heart and soul, I wanted what was best for my son. I now realize that this was the antitheses of this.”
However, Talwani pushed , making a statement about the whole admissions scandal.
“I find that is at issue in all these cases. It’s not basic care-taking to your child. It’s not getting your child food or clothing. It’s not even getting your kid an instruction. It’s getting your kid into a college that you call’exclusive. ”’
“Are they doing so for their kids or their own status?”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen argued Sloane’s conduct was”far more egregious” than Huffman’s, noting he compensated”17 times the paychecks” into Singer. Rosen argued Sloane didn’t take responsibility like Huffman did.
“Huffman has owned her criminal activity, although the defendant attacked the victim and blamed other people,” Rosen said.
He contended Sloane’s proposal for significant community support wouldn’t be accessible to the poor and middle class.
“Make no mistake, he is using his wealth to try to buy his way out of jail,” Rosen said. “Prison is essential here as a fantastic leveler between rich and poor, and that’s why the suspect is doing everything possible here to avoid it.”
Singer’s influence not applicable, judge says
According to prosecutors, Sloane paid $200,000 into Singer’s sham nonprofit group, the Key Worldwide Foundation, and $50,000 into USC Women’s Athletics through Donna Heinel, a former senior associate athletic director at USC, who has pleaded not guilty to charges.
The payments came in 2017 and 2018 later Sloane’s son was fraudulently admitted to USC as a internationally accomplished water polo recruit — which he wasn’t.
Hochman told that the judge Sloane was a”good man who made a mistake” and 2,000 hours of community support could be unprecedented, which makes it an suitable punishment rather than prison.
But Talwani interjected at a few minutes to disagree with his shield, including when Hochman contested that Sloane understood Heinel received pay money. He stated his client didn’t understand what Singer did with all the cash.
“Your client did not know the way the messy details were worked out,” Talwani said. “But he knew the money was being used to bribe a USC official”
Hochman painted Singer as a”world-class plot and manipulator” and suggested that Sloane wouldn’t have committed the crime if not for Singer. That also drew sharp debate from the estimate.
“Why is that the question?” Talwani said, noting that she has defendants come before her court regularly who have been given a”financial route” to market drugs or commit other crimes. “Why does it matter that someone encouraged him?”
Third parent to be sentenced Thursday
Fifty-two defendants, including 35 parents, were charged with offenses in the nation’s”Varsity Blues” school admissions strategy. Twenty-three defendants pleaded guilty to felonies; the rest pleaded not guilty.
The government has pushed for more prison terms for parents, for example Sloane, who made among the largest payments in the strategy. By comparison, Huffman paid $15,000 to have someone correct answers about the SAT exam for her oldest kid. Prosecutors sought one month of prison for Huffman.
A judgment earlier this month from Talwani on which federal sentencing guidelines to use might have led to a lighter prison sentence than prosecutors had sought for Sloane. The judge determined the national fraud statute should set the foundation amount for paragraphs of parents in the admissions instance. The authorities asked the tougher commercial bribery statue to employ.
The college admissions instance proceeds Thursday in Boston federal court when Stephen Semprevivo, a former executive in Cydcor, is scheduled to be sentenced. Semprevivo admitted paying $400,000 for his son to be admitted into Georgetown University as an imitation tennis recruit. Semprevivo’s legal group watched Sloane’s hearing from inside the courtroom.