In an interview with the Wall Street Journal yesterday – ahead of today’s sentencing – Stanford University head sailing coach John Vandemoer called his role in the college admissions cheating scandal, “the biggest mistake of his life.”
Having pleaded guilty – admitting to taking bribes from Mr. Singer (the college scandal’s mastermind) for Stanford’s sailing program in exchange for flagging some of the college counselor’s clients as recruited athletes, even though they weren’t competitive sailors, and therefore giving them a boost in the admissions process – Vandemoer claims that while he understands now the illegality of the arrangements, he didn’t stop to think at the time about whether what he was doing was wrong.
However, as The Wall Street Journal reports, when pressed by the judge in his plea hearing in March, Mr. Vandemoer admitted to knowing that what he was doing was wrong at the time.
But, despite his plea and admission to knowing he did wrong, Mr. Vandemoer was sentenced Wednesday to one day in prison, followed by six months home confinement with electronic monitoring.
In total, he faces two years of supervised release and must pay a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors had asked for 13 months in prison and one year of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel said she was moved to impose a softer sentence than what the government recommended because of Mr. Vandemoer’s unique position in the case – having not pocketed money for himself.
“I have no doubt that he knew what he was doing was probably wrong,” Judge Zobel said. However, she added, there was general agreement he was “probably the least culpable” of all the coaches in the case.
Mr. Vandemoer said he saw himself as bringing in donations, not taking bribes.
However, federal prosecutors, in their sentencing memo, said Mr. Vandemoer benefited because by getting money for his team, he enhanced his career standing.
“His actions not only deceived and defrauded the university that employed him, but also validated a national cynicism over college admissions by helping wealthy and unscrupulous applicants enjoy an unjust advantage,” they said.
Mr. Vandemoer is one of 50 people, including nine coaches, charged in a vast college admissions scam that became public in March.
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