A California woman who worked for the mastermind behind the U.S. college admissions scandal will plead guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge, federal prosecutors said on Friday.
Mikaela Sanford, 34, of Folsom, California, 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.
The students would then submit the grades Sanford earned as part of their college and university admission applications, the Department of Justice said.
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 of $67,062 and restitution, court records show. Sanford’s plea hearing is September 17.
The DOJ said that a racketeering conspiracy charge can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater and restitution.
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.