U.S. Federal District Court Judge Indira Taiwani during a sentencing hearing for Devin Sloane. Mr. Sloane is one of the parents indicted under the federal investigation, Operation Varsity Blue, for paying Rick Singer to get their children into elite schools. Mr. Sloane paid Mr. Singer $250,000 to get his son into USC as a fake water polo player. Mr. Sloane even staged pictures of his son in their pool to make it look like he was a water polo athlete.
Judge Taiwani was on a roll. She expressed her concern that the parents offered as their excuse that they did it for their children. In Judge Taiwani’s mind, the parents were not providing food or other care taking. Their efforts were not even about access to higher education. Instead, the judge noted that wealthy parents were focused only on getting their children into elite colleges. The judge even expressed frustration because Mr. Sloane did not appear to understand that the real ones hurt in the admissions frauds were those who were not admitted because Mr. Sloane’s son was.
Judge Taiwani sentenced Mr. Sloane, the owner of a water treatment company, to four months in prison, a fine of $95,000, and 500 hours of community service. The first of the parents to plead guilty, Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison. However, she had only paid $15,000 to Rick Singer to get her daughter’s test scores raised.
The good judge raises an important question: What was the motivation of the parents?