Employee of U.S. college admissions scandal’s mastermind to plead guilty

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A California woman who worked for the mastermind behind the U.S. college admissions scandal agreed to plead guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

Mikaela Sanford, 34, of Folsom, had been accused of completing online courses and creating bogus athletic “profiles” for high school students to bolster their college admission chances, making them appear to be successful student-athletes.

Sanford had worked at Key Worldwide Foundation, which was run by college consultant and accused mastermind William “Rick” Singer, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and other conspiracy charges and has cooperated with prosecutors.

The government plans to recommend a sentence, including a little over one year in prison, one year of supervised release, a fine, forfeiture and restitution, court records show. Sanford’s plea hearing is Sept. 17.

Steven Masera, an accountant and financial officer for Singer, pleaded guilty in June and has yet to be sentenced.

A lawyer for Sanford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since March 2019, at least 55 people have been charged with involvement in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly used corrupt means to secure their children’s admission to selective or prestigious colleges.

Sanford is the 40th defendant to agree to plead guilty, prosecutors said. The actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among other defendants who entered guilty pleas.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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