Rick Singer, the man who was behind the 2019 college admissions cheating scandal that netted more than $25 million in bribes, has pled guilty to his role in the racketeering scheme, but has yet to be tried or convicted of the charges.
Netflix’s new docudrama “Operation Varsity Blues” dives into Singer’s back story and how he created the scheme. It also features dramatization scenes, starring Matthew Modine as Singer, that recreates some very revealing of phone conversations the FBI recorded after tapping his phone.
Notable participants in the scheme who sent money to Singer to use to bribe college officials in order to get their under-qualified kids into elite schools, including actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannuli, TPG Capital executive Bill McGlashan and Hot Pockets heiress Michelle Janvas have all been sentenced.
But still, 60 year-old Singer remains very much a free man and is out and about in Newport Beach on $500,000 bail. He admitted to a Boston judge in 2019, “I am absolutely responsible for it. I put everything in place. I put all the people in place and made the payments directly.”
So, why hasn’t Singer been sentenced to prison, even though he’s pled guilty? Because his testimony is the primary basis of the entire case.
Singer readily agreed to help the FBI round up other participants not long after being caught so he’s now a cooperating informant. His intel is helping the government sentence everyone else involved in the bribery ring — and as subjects in “Operation Varsity Blues” note, it’s unusual that the main criminal is also the star witness helping put everyone else away.
And because he agreed to help the FBI, Singer will also get some leniency when he eventually is sentenced.
According to the Massachusetts District Attorney’s office, “there is no sentencing hearing scheduled at this time” for Singer. The D.A. recommends “incarceration at the low end of the guidelines sentencing range” because of Singer’s cooperation, along with a non-specified fine.
Attorney Robert Fisher, who represented Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer, explains why Singer is still free for a moment in “Operation Varsity Blues.”
“Rick will be living with this for quite awhile. If he didn’t cooperate, he would have been charged, he would have been convicted already,” Fisher said. “Right now he’s out, a free man still, and his cooperation won’t be complete until the very last person charged in this conspiracy is sentenced, and that is most likely going to be awhile from now.”
“Operation Varsity Blues” begins streaming March 17 on Netflix.