Of those involved in the college admissions scandal in March, John Vandemoer, a former Stanford University rowing coach, was the first to be sentenced on June 12.
Vandemoer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering and admitted to taking $770,000 from William Singer, a college consultant who allegedly masterminded the briberies.
As a Stanford rowing coach, Vandemoer was able to push students’ applications through, claiming that they were “rowing recruits.” He accepted the $770,000 in bribes from Singer to help three students get accepted.
However, none of the students ended up attending Stanford. Two of the students that he was paid to accept decided to attend other schools, and the third student was not accepted as Vandemoer attempted to accept the student too late in the recruiting season.
Additionally, the bribes Vandemoer accepted went to the university’s rowing funds rather than his own pocket, and all funds associated with the scandal, $770,000, were accounted for.
For these reasons, Vandemoer was sentenced to just one day in prison, which he had already served, a $10,000 fine and six months of home confinement as part of two years of “supervised release,” rather than the 13 months in prison that prosecutors tried for.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel, the judge presiding over his trial, said he did not deserve to go to prison. She found him to be the “least culpable,” of all parents and coaches associated with the scandal.
Instead, Zobel found William Singer, the college consultant who bribed Vandemoer, to be more responsible.
However, as this is the first trial of this scandal, this reduced sentence will likely set a poor precedent for future trials.
According to the LA Times, assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen asked Zobel to send a “powerful message” to other judges as he believed that her decision would “set the tone” for similar cases in the future.