MASSACHUSETTS — A Los Angeles-based executive who paid $400,000 to get his child into Georgetown University under the guise that he was a tennis recruit was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison, the federal prosecutor in Massachusetts announced.
Stephen Semprevivo had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and was the third parent to be sentenced in the sprawling case that has ensnared more than 50 parents, college coaches and test administrators.
The four-month sentence is identical to that given on Tuesday to Devin Sloane, another LA-based executive who paid $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California falsely as a water polo player.
The actress Felicity Huffman, who paid $15,000 to cheat on her child’s SAT test, was sentenced this month to two weeks in prison.
So far, federal judge Indira Talwani has doled out sentences well below prosecutor’s recommendations in the college admissions scam. Prosecutors had asked for 13 months in prison for Semprevivo, one year and one day for Sloane, and one month for Huffman.
At the same time, Talwani has ordered each of the wealthy parents to pay fines higher than what prosecutor’s recommended. Talwani sentenced Semprevivo to pay a $100,000 fine, Sloane to pay a $95,000 fine and Huffman to pay a $30,000 fine.
Semprevivo, Sloane and Huffman are among the 35 parents who have been charged as part of the scheme to cheat, bribe and lie to gain an advantage in the college admissions system. Sixteen parents have pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy charges.
Semprevivo was the chief strategy and growth officer at Cydcor, a business that works in outsourced sales services, according to an old version of the company’s website. He is no longer on the website.
$400,000 bribe for Georgetown acceptance
According to the criminal complaint, Semprevivo conspired with scheme mastermind Rick Singer to bribe Gordon Ernst, the Georgetown tennis coach, to designate his son as a recruited tennis player and facilitate his acceptance to the university. But Semprevivo’s son did not play tennis competitively.
In August 2015, Singer emailed Semprevivo, his wife and their son instructions on what to email Ernst, such as claiming his son was a tennis star.
Ernst has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Semprevivo’s son’s application to Georgetown falsely said he played tennis all four years of high school and was ranked in singles and doubles tennis, the complaint says. However, the son’s applications to other schools did not mentions tennis, and the United States Tennis Association records do not show any match records for him.
Still, Semprevivo’s son was accepted to the school and enrolled in the fall of 2016. The Semprevivo family trust issued a check to Singer’s fake charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, for $400,000, the complaint says.
Between September 2015 and November 2016, Singer’s fake charity paid Ernst $950,000 for his help getting Semprevivo’s son, along with two other students, into Georgetown, prosecutors said in the complaint.
After Singer was caught by federal authorities and agreed to work with investigators, he called Semprevivo in March 2019 to talk to him about how Georgetown was conducting an internal investigation to find out why tennis recruits were not playing for the tennis team.
In a telephone back-and-forth with Singer, Semprevivo denied knowing that Singer got his son into the university using Ernst, according to the complaint.
“You know, I don’t have any details, but I think that, I think that you need to be accountable for what you did,” Semprevivo told Singer.
In May, Georgetown moved to dismiss Semprevivo’s son and another student connected to the scam. Semprevivo’s son initially filed a lawsuit against the university to prevent his expulsion but later dropped the lawsuit.