California executive gets four months in jail as second parent sentenced in college admissions scandal

A Los Angeles executive was sentenced to four months in federal prison Tuesday for his role in the college admissions scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents.

Devin Soane, 53, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. He admitted paying a total of $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California as a bogus water polo recruit. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also ordered Sloane to perform 500 hours of community service over two years of supervised release and pay a fine of $95,000.

Prosecutor Eric Rosen told the judge said Sloane's crime was “far more egregious” than those committed by actress Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced Sept. 13 to 14 days in prison.

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Huffman had pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 to have someone correct answers on her oldest daughter’s SAT exam.

"Huffman kept her child out of the crime, preferring to not let her know what was going on," Rosen said. "The defendant [Sloane], by contrast, literally threw his son into the family pool."

The prosecutor said further that Sloane showed no remorse for his actions while Huffman did.

Devin Sloane, right, arrives at Boston federal court for sentencing Thursday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Devin Sloane, right, arrives at Boston federal court for sentencing Thursday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Sloane is a graduate of USC and founder of the Los Angeles water systems company AquaTecture.

"There are no words to justify my behavior nor will I offer any excuses or justification," he said with tears in his eyes during Tuesday's sentencing. "The crime I committed is unacceptable. ... In my heart and my soul, I want what's best for my son. I realize now my actions were the antithesis of that."

“I think about that a lot and it repulses me,” Sloane said. “I’ve tried to do what’s best for my son.”

The scandal has led to charges against 51 people, including 35 parents, and exposed a college admissions system widely believed to favor the privileged. Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty and several of them are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming weeks.

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Sloane was accused of paying $200,000 to a sham charity operated by William "Rick" Singer, an admissions consultant at the center of the scheme, and $50,000 to an account controlled by Donna Heinel, a former USC athletics official. Authorities say Sloane helped fabricate documents depicting his son as an international water polo star even though he had never played the sport. He bought water polo gear online, investigators found, and staged action photos of his son in the family's swimming pool.

Sloane's son, Matteo, was accepted to USC in 2018. It's unclear if he still attends the school. As of this August, USC said it had not made a decision regarding students whose families were accused in the admission scheme.

Prosecutors had sought a year and a day in prison and a $75,000 fine. Sloane's lawyers sought three years of supervised release, a fine and 2,000 hours of community service.

Talwani challenged the idea that parents would pursue the admissions or test scheme out of a genuine desire to help their children.

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"The crime that's at issue in all of these cases is not basic care-taking for your child. It's not getting your child food or clothing. It's not even getting your child a college education," she said. "It's getting your child into a college that might be called exclusive. Are they doing that for their children or are they doing it for their own status?"

Actress Lori Loughlin, 55, and husband Mossimo Giannulli have pleaded not guilty after being charged with paying Singer $500,000 to get their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella into USC as crew team athletes even though they weren’t rowers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.