A California woman was charged and has agreed to plead guilty as part of a sweeping college admissions cheating scheme that has resulted in charges against dozens of parents and others, federal prosecutors said this week.
Karen Littlefair, 57, of Newport Beach, was accused of paying $9,000 to have someone from the company of the scheme’s alleged mastermind, William “Rick” Singer, take online courses so that her son could graduate from Georgetown University, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a statement Monday.
Littlefair will plead guilty at a later date to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, prosecutors said.
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That charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but prosecutors said they will recommend a sentence of four months in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $9,500 and restitution.
A lawyer for Littlefair, Kenneth Julian, said his client has “taken the earliest opportunity to take responsibility for her conduct,” The Associated Press reported.
Littlefair is the latest person charged in the scheme. Prosecutors in March announced charges against 50 people as a result of the FBI investigation called Operation Varsity Blues, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. The employee for Singer’s company completed four classes for her son at Georgetown and elsewhere, prosecutors said.
Huffman, a one-time Oscar nominee and the wife of actor William H. Macy, a one-time Oscar nominee and the wife of actor William H. Macy, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and honest services fraud in May for paying $15,000 to Singer to cheat on daughter Sophia Grace Macy’s SAT in 2017. She was sentenced to 14 days in prison and served her sentence and has been released.
Loughlin, known for her role in “Full House,” and her fashion-designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are fighting the charges. They were among those hit with a new bribery charge in October, and they pleaded not guilty in November.
Littlefair’s son graduated from Georgetown in May of 2018 using the credits from the online courses taken by an employee of Singer’s business, prosecutors said.
Georgetown declined to comment about any possible disciplinary action to the AP on Monday but said that the school can revoke degrees in cases of major misconduct.
Singer has pleaded guilty and is cooperating in the government investigation. He wore a wire for the FBI in the case.
In some of the cases, wealthy parents paid to have their children’s scores boosted or tried to get them admitted as fraudulent athletic recruits, or both, officials have said.
Associated Press contributed.