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College admissions scandal: Should parents who paid biggest bribes get bigger punishments?

Current federal guidelines explain that prison terms for fraud charges are connected to the victim’s financial loss.

The status of Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli at University of Southern California remains on hold following the college admissions scandal.
An aerial view of the University of Southern California near downtown Los Angeles. U.S. District judge Indira Talwani paused proceedings in the college admissions scandal to ask how she should calculate the culpability of the parents involved.
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U.S. District judge Indira Talwani paused proceedings in the college admissions scandal over a question — how should she calculate the culpability of parents involved in the scandal?

Talwani asked the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen, to explain “why she should use the amount of money a parent paid into Singer’s operation to determine where the parent falls in the range of prison sentences established by the guidelines,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

Current federal guidelines explain that prison terms for fraud charges are connected to the victim’s financial loss. If a total loss can’t be amassed, then they can use the amount the perpetrator gained as an idea.

Rosen said that the universities and companies that give out admissions tests are the victims in the case and probably took a financial hit because of the scandal. He said it’s “impossible” to determine the total amount they lost, KTLA reports.

So, he said, Talwani should consider how much the parents paid.

That’s why lawyers are asking for a lighter sentence for Felicity Huffman, who only gave $15,000 so that her daughter’s SAT exam could be doctored. But Stephen Semprevivo, who confessed to paying $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown, might see prison for 21 to 27 months, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Lori Loughlin, accused of paying $500,000 to help get her daughters into the University of Southern California, could face up to 40 years in prison, according to the Deseret News.

But probation officials feel the universities and test companies didn’t suffer any loss. So, according to Rosen, those officials recommend that parents receive a sentence anywhere from zero to six months.