California mom sentenced for paying someone $9K to take son’s college courses

Mother sentenced for paying someone $9K to take son’s college courses

A California woman who admitted paying $9,000 for someone to take her son’s online courses at Georgetown University was sentenced to five weeks in prison on Wednesday.

Karen Littlefair, 57, a socialite from Newport Beach, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs to pay a $209,000 fine and serve 300 hours of community service, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I acted out of love for my son but I ended up hurting my son greatly,” Littlefair told the court via videoconference.

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Littlefair was the 18th parent sentenced and the 16th sent to prison for conspiring to cheat with William “Rick” Singer, a Newport Beach college admissions consultant, the Times reported. For a decade, Singer allegedly rigged standardized tests and bribed college coaches, the newspaper reported. He later cooperated with authorities and implicated the parents in an effort to have his sentence reduced.

Singer pleaded guilty to four felonies in March and has yet to be sentenced.

The case’s highest-profile figures -- actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli -- pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to commit fraud, the Times reported. They will be sentenced Aug. 21.

When Littlefair’s son was placed on academic probation by Georgetown, she paid Singer’s company $9,000 to take four online courses in his name so that he could graduate in May 2018, The Associated Press reported. Three were taken through Georgetown’s online program, while the fourth class was an online course at Arizona State University that was later transferred to Georgetown, the AP reported.

However, when one of the class grades was a “C,” Littlefair sought a $3,000 refund.

“Kind of thought there would have been a discount on that one. The grade was a C and the experience was a nightmare,” Littlefair wrote in an email to Singer’s accountant, according to court documents.

Singer refused to return the money, the Times reported, writing back that it “was a nightmare for all.”

Burroughs told Littlefair on Wednesday that she taught her son “it’s OK to cheat, it’s OK to take shortcuts.”

“You’re supposed to get more by earning it and working for it and I think that’s a lesson your son needs to learn and sadly he’s going to learn it the hard way here,” Burroughs said.