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LA businessman sentenced in college cheating scandal

Stephanie Pagones

The California businessman who admitted to paying a quarter-million dollars to get his son into college was sentenced to four months in prison on Tuesday.

Devin Sloane, 53, was the second person to learn his fate in the sweeping federal investigation into widespread cheating in college admissions — dubbed "Varsity Blues" — after actress Felicity Huffman's sentencing earlier this month.

Sloane, a Los Angeles-based business executive, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani for his Tuesday afternoon sentencing at John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston. The founder of water company, WaterTALENT, pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, officials said at the time.

In 2017, Sloane allegedly bought a swimming cap and water polo gear on Amazon and then photographed his oldest son in a pool making “water polo poses,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen during Tuesday’s court appearance.

Sloane then had the images doctored and sent them to William “Rick” Singer, whom he paid $250,000 to have his son fraudulently admitted to the University of Southern California as an athlete.

“The crimes did not end at the infinity pool,” Rosen said. “He lied to [the] high school, lied about his use of Singer, lied to USC when they asked questions about his donation to USC women's sports,” Rosen continued. “Then he bragged to Singer, who told him: ‘You are slick.’ ”

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of one year and one day behind bars, and a $75,000 fine. His attorneys requested three years of supervised release, 2,000 hours of community service and an unspecified fine.

In addition to his time behind bars, Sloane was ordered to pay a $95,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service over the course of two years.

On Sept. 13, “Desperate Housewives” star Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in jail, and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine, and serve 250 hours of community service and one year of probation.

Huffman pleaded guilty in May to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT scores fixed in 2017.

But unlike Huffman, Rosen said Tuesday, Sloane paid 17 times more money, Rosen said.

Sloane's defense attorney argued that his client's background of community service and overcoming adversity shows "he's a good man who made a mistake."

"He did it with his eyes open. He fully accepts responsibility for his actions," he said. "He made a mistake with a bad person who got caught."

Sloane choked up as he addressed the court before hearing his sentencing.

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Also on Tuesday, officials announced an added money laundering charge against Xiaoning Sui, who was the 52nd person arrested in connection to the federal investigation. Sui was initially charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

The Associated Press and Fox News’s Andrew Fone contributed to this story.

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