Former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering for his role in the nationwide college bribery scandal, is getting no prison time. The Wednesday sentencing development may signal that defendants in this massive prosecution may get relatively light treatment from the courts, which is potentially good news for Lori Loughlin and other charged parents.
The punishment includes six months of home confinement, with two years of supervised release, and a $10,000, but all told, it’s considered pretty light. Vandemoer faced a possible 13 months in prison for accepting $610,000 in bribes that were then funneled into the Stanford sailing program. The students had no sailing experience. He was the first of dozens of individuals to be sentenced as a result of “Operation Varsity Blues.”
Per NBC News:
Vandemoer received two separate payments of $500,000 and $110,000 and was promised a third of $160,000 between fall 2016 and October 2018 on behalf of the Stanford sailing program to falsely represent that three clients of [William “Rick“] Singer‘s were elite sailors — and thus deserving of special admission to the private school, according to court documents.
The defense said Vandemoer never took the money for himself.
One lawyer suggested that this sentence is “good news” for Full House actress Lori Loughlin and other parents charged in the case.
“Yesterday’s decision is a good sign for all of the parents,” California trial lawyer Lara Yeretsian told Law&Crime. “The coach, who was charged with racketeering, accepted a lot more money than Lori Loughlin or other parents paid, and the judge said that he shouldn’t serve jail time. The parents lost money by doing this, and the fact that the judge granted leniency for the coach means that Loughlin and other parents may not end up serving time.”
It’s a little bit more complicated for Loughlin, however. After all, she and her husband Mossimo Giannuli didn’t plead guilty in their case, which could have been taken into consideration at sentencing and mitigated the damage. Not only that, the couple was also hit with additional money laundering charges after they didn’t cut a plea deal with the government. The couple has instead elected to fight charges in court.
Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid bribes of $500,000 to get their daughters Isabella and Olivia Jade Giannuli treated as recruits of the University of Southern California crew team. The teens never participated in crew.
Then there’s the matter of USC considering a lawsuit against Loughlin and Giannulli. That detail came out in a motion from the prosecution. It was suggested that Latham & Watkins, the law firm representing the couple, could have conflicts of interest since it also represents the school in an unrelated matter. Prosecutors said that the school would be entitled to a victim-impact statement in a sentencing hearing, which Loughlin’s defense counsel would be obligated to look at and possibly challenge.
Loughlin’s attorney said that there is no conflict of interest.
“Our law firm is confident that it has no or reasonably foreseeable conflict of interest in this case,” lawyer William Trach wrote in a May 6 letter cited by prosecutors, according to USA Today.
Yeretsian also said that she would be surprised if USC ultimately moved forward with a lawsuit, since that has the potential to expose the university even more.
“I’d be surprised if USC actually brought a lawsuit against Loughlin and her husband,” she said. “It may serve to uncover evidence of illegal or immoral conduct by the university. Why would the university invite that kind of scrutiny?”
[Image via Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images]