U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani ordered Sloane to report to prison Dec. 3. He became the second wealthy parent in as many weeks to be sentenced to time behind bars for participating in a scheme to undermine the college admissions process, suggesting that more than 30 other accused parents also could face prison. Some have pleaded guilty; others are contesting charges and headed toward trial.
The scandal throws into stark relief disparities between rich and poor in the chase for admission to prominent universities.
“The crime that’s at issue in all of these cases is not basic caretaking for your child,” Talwani said. “It’s not getting your child food or clothing. It’s not even getting your child a college education. It’s getting your child into a college that might be called ‘exclusive.’ ”
The judge said parents should think about their motives. “Are they doing that for their children or their own status?” she asked — implying the answer was the latter.
Sloane told the judge he was humbled and had no words to justify his behavior. “I profoundly apologize to my son and to all the other aspiring young students and their parents,” he said.
Sloane’s attorneys had proposed a sentence of three years of probation, a $75,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service. Federal prosecutors in Boston urged the judge to give him a year in prison, pointing to evidence that showed Sloane deeply engaged in the scam.
“Prison is necessary here as a great leveler between rich and poor,” Eric S. Rosen, an assistant U.S. attorney, said at the sentencing.
In June 2017, a government sentencing memorandum says, Sloane bought a Speedo swimsuit, a water polo ball, a water polo cap and a vinyl Italian flag decal for the cap online. “The purchases had one purpose: to help his son masquerade as a member of an elite Italian water polo team who merited recruitment to USC’s nationally ranked squad,” prosecutors wrote.
Sloane then sent admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer a purported action photo of his oldest son in a pool wearing the gear, according to the court document. Singer replied that the image showed too much torso, writing that the son was “a little high out of the water — no one gets that high.” Sloane then had the image manipulated to show the son with most of his body submerged and one arm upraised, as if about to throw a water polo ball.
“Hope this works,” Sloane wrote, according to the court document.
“Perfect,” Singer replied.
Prosecutors wrote that the son “did not even know how to play the sport.”
Singer is the admitted mastermind of a wide-ranging scheme to help the children of wealthy parents get into selective universities through cheating on admission tests and posing as recruited athletes. He has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.
Sloane, of Los Angeles, graduated from USC in 1988 and is the father of four children ages 4 to 20. He is an executive in a business dealing with water systems. Court records indicate his oldest son matriculated into USC. The son has not been charged with any crime.
USC in recent months has reviewed the admissions records of 33 students who may have a connection to the scandal. Citing privacy law, the university has declined to disclose the enrollment status of Sloane’s son or other individuals.
Georgetown, Yale and Stanford universities, also targeted in the scam, have dismissed a handful of students linked to Singer.
Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced last week to two weeks in jail for participating in the admissions testing fraud. Talwani is scheduled to sentence nine other parents this month and next. In all, 15 parents have pleaded guilty.
Nineteen parents are fighting charges in the case. Another, Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested last week in Spain. She is being held there, U.S. authorities said Tuesday, pending extradition to Boston to face fraud, fraud conspiracy and money laundering charges. Prosecutors allege that Sui — a Chinese national who lives in Canada — paid $400,000 to facilitate her son’s admission to UCLA as a purported soccer recruit.
Anderson reported from Washington.