Devin Sloane, a defendant in the national college bribery scheme, has been sentenced to four months in prison, fined $95,000 and given 500 hours of community service by a Boston judge today. Federal prosecutors had recommended a year of jail time and a $75,000 fine.
Sloane is the first USC-related parent to receive a sentence. He pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud to increase his son’s chances of being admitted to USC.
Sloane, the founder and CEO of a water consulting company in Los Angeles, paid a total of $250,000 in the scheme.
The college bribery scheme, often referred to as Operation Varsity Blues, was revealed by federal officials in March. The indictment laid out charges against 51 people, including 33 parents, involved in the scheme, including Rick Singer, who was behind many of the bribes. Singer has pleaded guilty.
In November 2017, Sloane paid $50,000 to an account titled, “USC Women’s Athletics," according to the FBI document. In April 2018, after his son had been admitted to the university in mid-March, he paid $200,000 to Singer’s Key Worldwide Foundation.
Both donations were shown to be in an effort to get his son into school by documents released in the federal indictment.
Laura Janke, a former USC assistant soccer coach who has pleaded guilty, created a fake athletic profile for Sloane’s son to be admitted to the school through athletics, according to the indictment. The profile falsely presented Sloane’s son as a water polo player and contained several staged photos taken by Sloane and orchestrated by Singer. In these photos, Sloane’s son appears to be using the water polo gear that Sloane purchased online, the court documents say.
A guidance counselor at Sloane’s son’s high school in Sherman Oaks allegedly raised concerns about Sloane’s son’s admission to USC, pointing out their school did not have a water polo team, according to FBI affidavit. Sloane responded by calling their questions “outrageous," according to the FBI documents.
USC’s former Senior Athletic Director Donna Heinel, who has been indicted by the Department of Justice and was fired by USC after news of the bribery scheme broke, allegedly sent an email in April 2018 to the “USC Director of Admissions.” Heinel has pleaded not guilty.
According to the affidavit, Heinel acknowledged that the student’s high school does not have a water polo team, but insisted that the student had water polo experience and cited his interaction with then-USC Water Polo Head Coach Jovan Vavic in Serbia. The affidavit says the student’s athletic experience was fabricated. Vavic has been indicted by the Department of Justice and was fired by USC after the revelation.
The affidavit says that "USC Director of Admissions" replied to Heinel, calling the school "unusually skeptical."
Here is the email copy, per the affidavit:
"Thanks, for this. If you don't mind, I'll pass an edited/paraphrased version of your note along to the school, to assure them we're looking at this stuff. They seemed unusually skeptical. I think they do have a water polo team, but I wouldn't expect it to be competitive. It's a small school; I read a good deal about tennis, some basketball, but not much else in the way of athletics."
The document does not describe any follow-up about the red flag. According to the Office of Admission on USC’s public directory, Kirk Brennan holds the position of Director of Admission. USC Vice President for Admission and Planning Katharine Harrington said in a statement, speaking on behalf of Brennan, in March that she cannot confirm or reveal the identity of USC director of admissions due to ongoing investigations.
This is the second sentencing in the case. Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for paying $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT exam.
Correction: A previous version of the story said there were 12 parents were indicted in March. The correct number is 33.