On Wednesday morning, a California judge sentenced Toby MacFarlane, a former senior executive at WFG National Title Insurance Company, to six months in prison for paying $450,000 to get his son and daughter into the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits. Along with the prison time, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton sentenced MacFarlane to two years of supervised release, 200 hours of community service and a $150,000 fine.
Gorton said that MacFarlane’s behavior took spots away from deserving students and should be treated like petty thievery “because that’s what you are — a thief.”
As first reported by California news outlets, MacFarlane made two payments of $200,000, once in 2014 and once in 2017, to the sham nonprofit that was then transferred over as bribes to one current and two former USC employees. Another $50,000 payment from MacFalrane went to USC athletics. MacFarlane’s daughter then got admitted to USC as a soccer recruit while his son made it in as a basketball recruit despite not playing the sports.
“You had the audacity and the self-aggrandizing impudence to use your wealth to cheat and lie your way around the rules that apply to everyone else,” Gorton added in the ruling.
First unraveled in March 2019, the college admissions scandal involved nearly 50 people who were charged in connection with a massive scheme to get their children into top universities by bribing university officials, encouraging cheating on entrance exams, and paying to have their children registered as fake sports recruits. Hollywood actors Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and Bruce Isackson, the president of the real estate investment firm WP Investments, were some of the people named by federal prosecutors in the scandal.
As the scandal unravels further and sentences are handed down, some attorneys are asking that judges hand down strict sentences to show that this type of corruption should not be tolerated — according to USA Today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen asked the judge to “send a message” in the case of MacFarlane, who must now report to prison by Jan. 2.
“I am truly sorry,” MacFarlane said in court. “I love that school and it is heartbreaking to me that I brought a shadow on it.”