UPDATE: LA Businessman Sentenced to 4 Months in College Admissions Scandal

CBS News
September 26, 2019 - 9:37 am

CBS

Categories: 

A Los Angeles businessman was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison for paying $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit. Stephen Semprevivo, 53, pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy in a deal with prosecutors.

Semprevivo is the third parent to be sentenced in a sweeping college admissions scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy mothers and fathers.

Authorities say Semprevivo conspired with admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to get his son into Georgetown as a tennis recruit, even though he did not play the sport competitively. His son was admitted to Georgetown in 2016 but was expelled over the scheme earlier this year.

Semprevivo was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service, a fine of $100,000 and possible restitution to Georgetown to be decided later.

"I deserve to be punished for the illegal actions that I took," Semprevivo said in a tearful apology to the judge. "I'm fully responsible and take full responsibility for my actions, and feel I should be punished."

 "I deserve to be punished for the illegal actions that I took," Semprevivo said in a tearful apology to the judge. "I'm fully responsible and take full responsibility for my actions, and feel I should be punished."

In an August 17 letter asking for leniency, Semprevivo said he was driven by "foolish ambition" for his son's happiness. He said he accepts "total and full" responsibility but also said he was drawn in and manipulated by Singer.

"Looking back, I can see that Rick Singer worked me over and got me to do and believe things I am ashamed of and deeply regret," he wrote. "I wanted the future for my son that he had worked so hard for. This was the main factor in my bad judgment."

He was accused of paying $400,000 to a sham charity operated by Singer in 2016. Authorities say Singer then bribed Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst to label Semprevivo's son and the children of other Singer clients as recruited athletes. Singer has pleaded guilty to federal charges. Ernst, who was fired by Georgetown, pleaded not guilty.

Days after Semprevivo pleaded guilty, his son sued Georgetown in an attempt to block his expulsion, saying the school was unfairly trying to discipline him for a scheme that it "knew or should have known about" for two years. The lawsuit was withdrawn in July.

Prosecutors said Semprevivo deserved prison time because he paid one of the highest bribes and enlisted his son in the scheme. They said he showed a "disturbing lack of remorse" by describing himself as a victim of Singer.

"He is not a victim. He is a co-conspirator," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Kearney said at the sentencing.

An entrepreneur who has spent much of career at technology companies, Semprevivo said he lost his job over the scandal and has been unable to find new work. Most recently he was executive vice president of Cydcor, a California company that helps companies outsource their sales teams.

Adam Semprevivo filed a lawsuit against Georgetown in May, seeking to stop the school from disciplining or expelling him for his alleged involvement in the college admissions scandal. Adam Semprevivo's lawsuit came after his father pleaded guilty in a Boston court. 

How parents allegedly participated in the college admissions scheme

On Tuesday, a Los Angeles business executive was sentenced to four months in federal prison for paying a $250,000 bribe to get his son admitted to the University of Southern California as a fake water polo recruit. Devin Sloane was also sentenced to two years of supervised release and 500 hours of community service and was also ordered to pay a fine of $95,000.

Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty in the scheme, while 19 are contesting the charges, including "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into USC as fake athletes.

"Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman became the first parent sentenced after admitting to paying $15,000 to rig her daughter's SAT score. She was sentenced to 14 days in prison.