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California mom Karen Littlefair who paid $9k to fake student sought discount after he scored a C for son's exam

Many wealthy parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the country were linked to the cheating scam such as actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin
UPDATED JUL 16, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

NEWPORT, CALIFORNIA: A California socialite was sentenced to five weeks in prison after she was convicted of paying $9,000 to have someone else take online college courses on behalf of her son at the prestigious Georgetown University in Washington DC and later asked for a refund when the fake student got a C grade.

Karen Littlefair, 57, from Newport in California, pleaded guilty before being sentenced. She groveled in front of the judge, saying she was "truly sorry" for the "nightmare" she had made her family go through. She is known to have organized fundraisers for top Republican politicians in the past. "I acted out of love for my son but I ended up hurting my son greatly," she said. 

Littlefair appeared in court via videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic. She was one of the 50 people who were involved in ongoing college admissions scandals. Many wealthy parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the country were linked to the cheating scam such as actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin.

After her son failed to meet the required standard for one of his classes at Georgetown and was consequently put on probation in 2017, Littlefair decided to take the matter of her son's future in her own hands and take illegal help from outside. To make her plan a success, she enlisted the help of the admissions consultant at the center of the scam, Rick Singer. Singer has been accused of aiding parents in getting their kids admitted to selective schools with fake athletic credentials or help their children cheat in exams. 

(L-R) Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin and Isabella Rose Giannulli attend The Women's Cancer Research Fund's An Unforgettable Evening Benefit Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 28, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

She hired Singer's company to take four online classes on her son's behalf so he could graduate in 2018. According to prosecutors, three of the classes were taken at Georgetown while one of them was taken online at Arizona State University and then transferred to Georgetown. After the fraudster received a C on one of the classes, she requested Singer for a discount. “Kind of thought there would have been a discount on that one. The grade was a C and the experience was a nightmare,” she told Singer’s accountant in an email, the court documents revealed. 

In the end, Littlefair never got that discount from the Singer who told her the experience had been "a nightmare for all." Moreover, Littlefair had taught her son that "It’s okay to cheat, it’s okay 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,” the judge said.

In January, Littlefair admitted one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Although prosecutors had sought four months in prison, Littlefair’s lawyer told the judge she deserves probation. Apart from her sentence, she was also ordered to pay a $209,000 fine and complete 300 hours of community service. 

Meanwhile, Singer is awaiting sentencing after admitting four felonies last March. Almost 30 parents have pleaded guilty in the scandal. Two of them were Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli. After denying for months, the pair admitted to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California. Their sentencing is scheduled for next month.