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Steven M. Witzel and Renee E. Turner Steven M. Witzel and Renee E. Turner

Perhaps the case most discussed this year around the nation’s proverbial water cooler has been the infamous college admissions scandal “Operation Varsity Blues.” In March 2019, 51 defendants were charged in Massachusetts federal court with a variety of criminal offenses, and assigned to seven judges. As this column goes to press, 28 have pleaded not guilty and 23 have pleaded guilty. No trial dates have been scheduled, but sentencing dates for all but one of the convicted defendants have been scheduled over the next few months.

The first (and only) defendant to be sentenced was John Vandemoer, a former Stanford University sailing coach. Vandemoer signed a plea agreement with sentencing guidelines of 33 to 41 months’ imprisonment wherein the government agreed to recommend an 18-month sentence; in its sentencing memorandum, the government asked for a 13-month sentence. Instead, Vandemoer avoided jail altogether, receiving six months of home confinement, and a “time served” sentence of one day. The outcome was understandably seen as a setback for the prosecution and a cause for optimism for the rest of the defendants.

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