Federal prosecutors plan to ask a judge Wednesday for more than a year in prison for a former Stanford sailing coach who admitted to accepting bribes in the college admissions cheating scheme.
John Vandemoer will be the first person sentenced in the case that has ensnared athletic coaches at elite universities across the country as well as prominent parents, including business executives and Hollywood stars. Among those charged are actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin as well as Loughlin’s fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli.
Prosecutors are seeking 13 months behind bars, saying such a sentence is necessary to help restore confidence in a college admissions system that many believe is rigged in favor of the rich.
“The crimes of the defendant and his co-conspirators confirmed, for many, the worst of what they had long suspected: that hard work and sacrifice matter less than money and the access it buys,” they wrote in court documents.
Vandemoer’s lawyers will urge the judge for no prison time, noting that he accepted responsibility and didn’t pocket any of the money for himself. They say Vandemoer was seeking only to “help the sailing program he loved.”
“Vandemoer is before this court because in one instance he failed to live up to the high standards he set for himself and instilled in countless young people,” his lawyer wrote in court documents. “This is a mistake he regrets dearly and one that he is determined not to let define him or his life.”
Vandemoer got $110,000 for Stanford’s sailing program last year from the admissions consultant at the center of the scheme in exchange for labeling a prospective student as a recruit, prosecutors say. The student ended up going to another school.
The former coach later agreed to help another student get in as a recruit in exchange for bribes, prosecutors say. The student also ended up going to another school. The consultant, who by then was cooperating with authorities, told Vandemoer he would pay him anyway to keep their “relationship alive” and sent him $160,000 for the sailing program, prosecutors say.
Vandemoer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering in March on the same day prosecutors announced charges against 50 people in the bribery scheme.
Huffman pleaded guilty last month to paying $15,000 to have someone rig her daughter’s SAT score and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Loughlin and Giannulli have pleaded not guilty.