California woman sentenced to five weeks in prison for role in college cheating scandal: report

A 57-year-old California woman was sentenced to five weeks in prison Wednesday for paying someone $9,000 to have them secretly take online college courses for her son before demanding a discount when he received a C in the class, a published report said.

Karen Littlefair of Newport Beach told the judge during her videoconference sentencing because of the coronavirus she was “truly sorry” for her actions and sought leniency after calling the experience a “nightmare” for her family, the Associated Press reported.

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“I acted out of love for my son but I ended up hurting my son greatly,” Littlefair said.

Littlefair is not the only person being charged in the college cheating scheme, the report said. Authorities disclosed the parents worked with the admissions consultant at the center of the scam, Rick Singer, to have someone cheat on their childs’ exams or get them admitted to selective schools with fake athletic credentials.

After Littlefair’s son was put on academic probation by Georgetown University, she hired Singer’s company to take four online classes for him in order for him to graduate in 2018, prosecutors said. Three of the courses were taken through Georgetown, prosecutors said, while one was taken online at Arizona State University and then transferred to Georgetown.

When the person taking the class for her son received a C in one of the classes, Littlefair sought a discount, authorities said.

In an email to Singer’s accountant, she said,“Kind of thought there would have been a discount on that one. The grade was a C and the experience was a nightmare,” court documents said.

However, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs told Littlefair instead of her son learning in the class, she taught son “it’s OK to cheat, it’s OK to take shortcuts,” the AP reported.

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“You’re supposed to get more by earning it and working for it and I think that’s a lesson your son needs to learn and sadly he’s going to learn it the hard way here,” the judge said.

Prosecutors had sought four months in prison, while Littlefair’s lawyer countered with probation. In January, she pled guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the AP reported.

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Other parents charged in the case include “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who admitted to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake crew recruits, the AP reported.

They are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.