Ex-Stanford sailing coach avoids prison time in college admissions scandal

Stanford University's former sailing coach, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars for his program in exchange for helping prospective students get recruited to the elite school as athletes, was sentenced Wednesday to two years of supervised release by a federal judge in Boston.

U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel also sentenced John Vandemoer to one day in prison, which she deemed to have been served, and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine. His supervised release will include six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Prosecutors had asked for Vandemoer to receive 13 months in prison and one year of supervised release.

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Vandemoer, 41, is the first person sentenced in the college admission scandal, in which prosecutors say dozens of wealthy parents paid bribes to get their children into top universities through inflated test scores and false labeling as athletic recruits.

"I am devastated that the program and the sport would be looked at poorly because of my actions," Vandemoer said during a statement to Zobel before sentencing.

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John Vandemoer pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy in Boston federal court this past March. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

John Vandemoer pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy in Boston federal court this past March. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Zobel noted that while Vandemoer needed to be punished, she didn't believe he needed to serve time in prison, calling him the "least culpable" of the more than 50 people charged in the scheme because he didn't pocket any money for himself.

Vandemoer pleaded guilty in March to one count of racketeering conspiracy. In 2016, scheme mastermind Rick Singer gave Vandemoer's sailing program $610,000 in exchange for labeling prospective students as recruits.

One Stanford student has already been expelled as a result of the scandal.

"We determined that some of the material in the student’s application is false and, in accordance with our policies, have rescinded admission," a school the statement read. "Any credits earned have also been vacated. The student is no longer on Stanford’s campus."

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"If we fail to take these crimes seriously, if you give just a slap on the wrist instead of real punishment. ... We are shortchanging not only the criminal justice system, but all those kids in high school who are working hard every day in an effort to improve their own lives and to get into the best school they can honestly and through hard work," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told Zobel in arguing for a harsher sentence.

Several coaches at other elite schools are also charged with taking payments. The list includes Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith, who is scheduled to be sentenced next week, and former Georgetown University soccer coach Gordon Ernst, who has pleaded not guilty.

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Parents charged include actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

Huffman, who paid $15,000 to Singer to have someone inflate her daughter's SAT score, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced in September. Loughlin and Giannulli paid $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as members of the crew team. They have pleaded not guilty.

The daughters' statuses at USC is currently on hold.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.