Woman pleads guilty to hiring stand-in for son in college admission scandal

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LOS ANGELES — A Newport Beach woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in Boston for paying $9,000 to have a stand-in take online classes on behalf of her son so he could graduate from Georgetown University.

Karen Littlefair, 57, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.

The charge carries up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors said in the plea agreement that they will recommend four months and a $9,500 fine at sentencing May 13.

Federal prosecutors said Littlefair agreed to pay $9,000 to have an employee of Newport Beach businessman William “Rick” Singer’s for-profit college counseling business, The Edge College & Career Network, also known as the Key, to take online classes in place of Littlefair’s son and submit the fraudulently earned credits to Georgetown.

The Key employee completed four classes for Littlefair’s son, who graduated from Georgetown in 2018, using the credits earned by the imposter, according to federal prosecutors.

Singer previously pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government’s investigation.

Dozens of parents and college athletic coaches were implicated in the 52-defendant nationwide bribery scandal, in which wealthy parents paid Singer thousands of dollars to have their children’s entrance-exam scores doctored. In other cases, students were falsely admitted to elite universities as athletic recruits, even though they never had any experience in the sports for which they were being recruited.

Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman was released Oct. 25 from a low-security federal prison camp in Northern California 11 days into a 14-day sentence for paying to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers on a college-entrance exam.

Huffman, 57, was sentenced to prison time in September. She was also ordered to spend a year on supervised release, pay a $30,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service. The “Desperate Housewives” actress was the first parent to be sentenced in connection with the wide-ranging college-admissions cheating scandal, a probe dubbed “Varsity Blues.”

“Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and money-laundering charges in the scandal.

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