Stephen Semprevivo, who paid $400,000 to get his son admission to Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit, was sentenced to four months in prison Sept. 26.
Semprevivo is the third parent to be sentenced this month in a Boston federal court and is among 15 parents who pleaded guilty for taking part in the college admissions bribery scandal. In addition to the four-month prison term, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Semprevivo to two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service and a $100,000 fine, according to the Department of Justice news release.
(Full disclosure: Semprevivo’s son, Adam Semprevivo, previously served as a cartoonist for The Hoya.)
In April 2016, Semprevivo, a California businessman, used a family trust to pay $400,000 to a charity run by William “Rick” Singer. Singer led the national college admissions scheme by using his company, Edge College & Career Network, as an intermediary between officials at prestigious universities and parents hoping to give their children an admissions advantage, according to court documents.
The Department of Justice brought charges against 50 defendants in total.
Semprevivo pleaded guilty in federal court in May 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Semprevivo’s actions are worthy of strong punishment despite his admission of guilt, according to a Sept. 19 memorandum filed in the U.S. Massachusetts District Court.
“Like the child who murders his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan, Semprevivo defrauded Georgetown, and then sought to hold Georgetown accountable (with damages) for not discovering his fraud,” assistant U.S. attorneys wrote in the memorandum. “Semprevivo wants credit for contrition and acceptance of responsibility, but he exhibits neither.”
Talwani also sentenced actress Felicity Huffman to two weeks in prison for her role in the scandal Sept. 13 and businessman Devin Sloane to four months in prison this Tuesday. Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison for paying Singer $15,000 to aid her daughter in cheating on standardized tests. Sloane had pleaded guilty to paying $250,000 for his son’s admission to the University of Southern California as a fake water polo player, according to court documents.
Georgetown dismissed two students in May 2019 following a review process. The university is also reviewing the records of former students who may be connected to the scandal, according to a university spokesperson.
“Each student case was addressed individually and each student was given multiple opportunities to respond and provide information to the University,” the university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Our review focused on whether students knowingly provided false information to the University during the admissions process.”
The university holds the right to dismiss current students or revoke degrees of former students if a review finds a violation of Georgetown’s policies, according to a university spokesperson.
“If the University finds that an individual submitted inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information to the University, or if they engaged in improper activity during the admissions process, the University can take action, up to and including rescission of admission and revoking the degree granted from the University,” the university spokesperson wrote.
In May 2019, Adam Semprevivo filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block his dismissal from the university, arguing that he was unaware of the steps his father took to gain his admission in 2015 and 2016. Semprevivo said he had been a student at Georgetown in good standing with a 3.18 GPA and accused the university of denying him due process. Semprevivo dropped his suit in July 2019, partially to focus on his academics moving forward.
While Stephen Semprevivo was sentenced to four months in prison, prosecutors had sought 13 months in prison, as well as a year of supervised release, a $95,000 fine and a restitution payment to Georgetown of over $100,000 to cover the university’s legal fees, according to the DOJ press release. Semprevivo’s legal counsel asked Talwani for a sentence of probation and community service.
Semprevivo’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.
When authorities announced the college admissions scandal in March 2019, they charged former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst with racketeering conspiracy. Federal prosecutors alleged that Singer paid Ernst more than $2.7 million in bribes over several years in exchange for Ernst designating 12 applicants to Georgetown as tennis recruits.
Singer has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other crimes and is cooperating with federal investigators, while Ernst has pleaded not guilty.
Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez were also implicated in the college admissions scam, having paid a fraudulent proctor to sit alongside each of their daughters as they took their college entrance exams, according to court documents. The parents also bribed Ernst to designate their older daughter, Isabelle Henriquez (COL ’20), as a tennis recruit, according to federal attorneys. The Henriquez parents chose not to enter a plea at an initial appearance in a Boston federal court in April.