Parent gets 4 months in college scandal

Collin Binkley
Associated Press

Boston – A Los Angeles businessman was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison for paying $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit.

Stephen Semprevivo, 53, pleaded guilty in May to fraud and conspiracy. He is the third parent sentenced in a college admissions scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy mothers and fathers.

Authorities say Semprevivo conspired with admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to get his son into Georgetown as a tennis recruit, even though he did not play the sport competitively. His son was admitted in 2016 but was expelled over the scheme earlier this year.

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015, file photo, students walk on the University of California, Los Angeles campus. Xiaoning Sui, 48, of Surrey, British Columbia, is accused of paying $400,000 to get her son into the University of California, Los Angeles, as a fake soccer recruit. She has become the 52nd person charged in a sweeping college admissions bribery scheme, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Boston's federal court.

Semprevivo was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service, a $100,000 fine and possible restitution to Georgetown. Prosecutors had asked for 13 months in prison.

“I’m fully responsible and take full responsibility for my actions, and feel I should be punished,” Semprevivo said in a tearful apology to the judge.

In an Aug. 17 letter asking for leniency, Semprevivo said he was driven by “foolish ambition” for his son’s happiness. He said he was drawn into the scheme by Singer.

“Looking back, I can see that Rick Singer worked me over and got me to do and believe things I am ashamed of and deeply regret,” Semprevivo wrote. “I wanted the future for my son that he had worked so hard for. This was the main factor in my bad judgment.”

He was accused of paying $400,000 to a sham charity operated by Singer in 2016. Authorities say Singer then bribed Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst to label Semprevivo’s son and the children of other Singer clients as recruited athletes. Singer has pleaded guilty. Ernst, who was fired by Georgetown, pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said Semprevivo deserved prison time because he paid one of the highest bribes and enlisted his son in the scheme. They said he showed a “disturbing lack of remorse” by describing himself as a victim of Singer.