Sacramento man accused of running college admission scam
Steven Masera, the Folsom accountant indicted for his role in the nationwide college admissions scandal will plead guilty to racketeering charges connected to the case, federal attorneys announced Friday in Boston.
Masera, 69, will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. In turn, U.S. attorneys will recommend a low-end sentence that includes a year of supervised release, fines, restitution and forfeiture of assets, U.S. Attorney’s officials announced. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled. The racketeering charge holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years’ supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Masera was first brought into Sacramento federal court in March on racketeering conspriracy charges – one of 50 people including actresses, athletic coaches and the well-to-do caught in the massive standardized test cheating scheme led by William Rick Singer, 59, of Sacramento. Masera worked as accountant and financial officer for the Edge College and Career Network – the college counseling business and non-profit Singer used to work his operation – until 2017. Masera is cooperating with federal investigators.
His former boss is also working with U.S. attorneys. Singer pleaded in March to racketeering conspiracy; money laundering conspiracy; conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice and remains free on conditional release pending a September sentencing in Boston.
Masera and Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom originally appeared in Sacramento federal court but were soon off to Boston federal court to face allegations there tied to the scheme. Sanford pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in Sacramento and will next appear June 3 in Boston federal court.
As part of the operation, parents paid exorbitant sums to have third parties take their children’s college placement exams and boost exam scores. Other students gained entry to elite universities as purported athletic recruits, federal prosecutors allege.
At least 13 parents have pleaded guilty so far in the case, the Associated Press reported, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman.
Coaches at universities across the country were also swept up in the scandal: those implicated included a Stanford sailing coach; a volleyball coach at Wake Forest; a senior associate athletic director and water polo coach at the University of Southern California; and a men’s tennis coach at University of Texas, who were accused of accepting cash to admit student athletes.
Many of the coaches have since been sacked or suspended. At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents were among the charged, the Associated Press reported.