College admissions scandal: California real estate exec gets longest prison sentence yet

Toby MacFarlane, 56, was sentenced to six months in prison for paying bribes to get two children admitted to the University of Southern California.

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By Phil Helsel

In the longest prison term handed down so far in the college admissions cheating scandal, a former California real estate executive was sentenced Wednesday to six months.

Toby MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, paid bribes to get his two children admitted to the University of Southern California as phony athletic recruits, prosecutors said.

MacFarlane pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of $150,000, perform 200 hours of community service and be under two years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a statement.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 15 months in prison.

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Before MacFarlane's sentencing, the lengthiest prison term handed down to a parent in the sweeping admissions scandal was five months. A judge ordered California winemaker Agustin Francisco Huneeus, 53, to serve five months in October after Huneeus pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Former USC assistant coach Laura Janke helped MacFarlane falsely pass off his daughter as a soccer star and his 5-foot-5 son as a 6-foot-1 basketball recruit, so they could get into USC, prosecutors said. MacFarlane paid $450,000 into funds controlled by ring leader William "Rick" Singer and Janke for their help with the college admissions.

MacFarlane’s daughter graduated from USC in 2018 without ever playing soccer, and his son was admitted to USC but withdrew without ever playing basketball.

Janke, of North Hollywood, has pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 15. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering in May and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation, the U.S. attorney’s office has said.

More than 50 people have been indicted in the admissions cheating scheme. Officials say wealthy parents paid to have their children admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, even if they didn't play sports, and helped them cheat on or have others take their standardized college exams.

Singer, the alleged mastermind, has pleaded guilty. He wore a wire for the FBI in the investigation, which was dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues."

Also Wednesday, a college exam proctor accused of accepting bribes to allow cheating on SAT and ACT tests pleaded guilty.

Igor Dvorskiy, the former director of a private elementary and high school in West Hollywood, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Boston to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Dvorskiy, 53, of Sherman Oaks, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7, and is also cooperating with the federal investigation. Prosecutors said that under the plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence at the low end of sentencing guidelines with one year of supervised release and a fine.

"Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman was among those indicted in the scandal. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 days in prison. She served the sentence and was released in October.

"Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion-designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were also indicted and have pleaded not guilty. They and other parents had an extra charge added by a grand jury last month.