Operation Varsity Blues: Bay Area parent sentenced 5 months in college admissions scandal

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Bay Area parent sentenced 5 months in college admissions scandal
A fifth parent in the Varsity Blues college admissions cheating scandal learned his fate on Friday.

BOSTON -- A fifth parent in the Varsity Blues college admissions cheating scandal learned his fate on Friday.

A judge sentenced Napa winemaker Agustin Huneeus to five months in prison for his role in the college admissions scandal. It's the longest sentence a parent involved in the scandal has received so far.

RELATED: LIST: These Bay Area residents have been charged in alleged college admissions scam

Hunneus pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors say Huneeus agreed to pay Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the college admissions scandal, $300,000s. The money, disguised as donations to Singer's foundation, was to participate in the entrance exam cheating scheme and the college recruitment scheme.

Part of the bribe was for Hunneus' daughter to be recruited as a USC water polo player, a sport she didn't actually play competitively.

Ultimately Hunneus was arrested before he could make a final $200,000 payment.

Hunneus and his attorney had asked for leniency because his daughter wasn't admitted to USC.

In a recorded conversation with Singer, Hunneus worried the scheme could "blow up in his face," something ABC7 News I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow asked him about in March.

In addition to prison time, the judge sentenced Hunneus to two years supervised release, 500 hours community service and a $100,000 fine.

Four other parents who pleaded guilty have already been sentenced; Felicity Huffman received 14 days in prison, Devin Sloan received four months in prison, Stephen Semprevivo received four months and Gordon Caplan received one month in prison.

Two more Menlo Park parents who pleaded guilty are scheduled to be sentenced in October, Peter Sartorio and Marjorie Klapper. Both pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 for the college entrance exam cheating scheme.

Hunneus must report to a facility designated by the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 4. He's requested USP Atwater in Merced County or somewhere within 200 miles of San Francisco.

RELATED: Operation Varsity Blues: Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in college admissions scandal

Hunneus read the following statement in court:

"Today is a hard day. But after you sentence me the rest of my life begins. I want to pay for my crime and atone for the harm I have caused.

The consequences of my actions to those closest to me have been devastating. The public shame and notoriety I have thrust upon them has impacted them all. I have damaged and humiliated my family. My friends and the amazing people I had the privilege to work with in our business are all victims of my actions. I have harmed and disappointed everyone who loved me or cared about me. I am sorry and I will do better.

Every spot in every college is important to our society. Nothing has a larger impact on income inequality and social mobility than a college education. Millions of kids apply to college ever year and top colleges can accept just a tiny percentage of them. And many of these spots are reserved for donors, athletes and legacies so the odds are even tougher for most.

I am deeply ashamed of myself for taking part in a scheme that could have taken a deserving student's future away. My actions threatened to disadvantage the very people the system was already stacked against.

I deserve the consequences of my actions and whatever sentence you decide today. I will use my time to figure out how to come back and have an impact for good to those I have harmed. I will commit to you today and all my friends and family that have stood by me that I will get out and work to redeem myself in the eyes of society. Only when I achieve this will I regain my self-worth and be worthy of the respect of my friends and family again."

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