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Newport Beach Mother Pleads Guilty To College Admission Scandal

Photography by: David Wilson – Flickr

A Newport Beach woman pled guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and confessed to paying $9,000 to have someone take her son’s online classes at Georgetown in a federal court in Massachusetts on Jan. 22.

Prosecutors said Newport Beach mother Karen Littlefair plotted with consultant William “Rick” Singer to have someone from his company take her son’s classes.

Littlefair previously entered into a plea deal with prosecutors and will be sentenced May 13. She could receive up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said they will recommend a fine of $9,500 and a sentence of four months in jail with a year of supervised release.

“My client took the earliest opportunity to take responsibility for the conduct set forth in the plea agreement,” said Kenneth B. Julian, Littlefair’s attorney. “She’s doing the right thing early.”

Mikeale Sanford, an employee of Singer, is accused to have been the one to assist in planning the scheme for Littlefair’s son. For one of Georgetown’s online classes, a video conference with the professor was required. In this conversation, Littlefair told Sanford and an unknown employee they “should have a stand in for [my son].” 

Littlefair’s son graduated from Georgetown in 2018 with partially earned fraudulent college credits. The college said that it has the right to rescind any degrees if unethical activity is discovered after a student has graduated. 
36 parents are being charged in similar scandals with only 16 parents pleading not guilty. The parents that are pleading innocence are now facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, bribery and money laundering. This includes actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli. Loughlin and her husband were accused of paying Singer $500,000 to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California as rowing recruits. The senior associate Director at USC was given $100,000 as a bribe to mark the girls as potential recruits for the team. Singer has cooperated with the government and has pleaded guilty to four felonies. He is now awaiting sentencing.

Chloe Mosier is a City News Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. She can be reached at mosierc@uci.edu.