A few days ago I posted an update on the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. The data I saw confused me. Four defendants were sentenced to forfeiture in addition to their fines. Combined they totaled over $700,000.
Only one of the four defendants was a parent trying to get her child into school. The rest were bribe takers or otherwise involved in the scheme. That makes sense. They profited and were required to give up their ill-gotten gains. My question is, what was the parent forfeiting and why? The Department of Justice (DOJ) press release says in her case it was forfeiture of the $400,000 she paid to get her child in. Why not do that for all the other parents? Perhaps her case was unique in that the government was able to seize her money before it was received or before the check was cashed. It still seems odd.
Despite the recommendations by the DOJ for restitution in every case, no judge has imposed restitution as part of a sentence in the case. The reason seems obvious: to whom would they make restitution? The universities weren’t hurt, and in some cases benefited financially. The real victims were the kids who didn’t get admitted because the slots were given to undeserving kids. But there’s no way to know who they were. You’re likely to see some inaccurate reporting on this issue. Typically, the parent agrees to plead guilty and the U.S. Attorney recommends restitution, then the newspeople report that the defendant has agreed to X days in jail, a fine of such and such amount, and restitution, all of which is true. Sometimes they even say the defendant received this sentence. But the judges have disregarded that part of the plea bargain and declined to include restitution. Check the DOJ website if you want to know the true sentence.