Lido Isle Local Pleads Guilty in College Admissions Scheme

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A Lido Isle woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in Massachusetts federal court in connection with paying $9,000 to have an employee of a for-profit college counseling business take online classes for her son, in order to earn credits to facilitate his graduation from Georgetown University.

Karen Littlefair, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, prosecutors said. U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs scheduled sentencing for May 13.

Authorities will recommend a sentence of four months in prison, one year of supervised release, a fine of $9,500 and restitution, according to the plea agreement filed last month in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts.

“My client has taken the earliest opportunity to take responsibility for her conduct,” Littlefair’s attorney Kenneth Julian wrote in a prepared statement in December.

Julian declined to make additional comments.

The Lido Isle resident paid about $9,000 for an employee of William “Rick” Singer’s Newport Beach-company, The Edge College & Career Network to take four online classes for her son James Littlefair, prosecutors said. In May 2018, Littlefair’s son graduated from Georgetown, using academic credits earned by the employee.

James Littlefair, an advance staffer who worked for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, resigned from the department in December, according to POLITICO.

Karen Littlefair’s case for leniency from Judge Burroughs was boosted by a letter from former First Lady of California Gayle Wilson. The California Institute of Technology trustee wrote that her friend’s moral lapse does not warrant jail time.

“What she did to help her son to win and keep a prestigious job that required his immediate and full-time presence and attention was wrong, and I do not condone it,” Wilson wrote. “But the three classes she paid someone else to take for her son did not deprive any other student from entering Georgetown or obtaining his or her degree.”

Wilson added that Littlefair’s prosecution will likely forever sully her son’s reputation, causing lasting injury to him and lasting pain to her.

Littlefair joins a group of wealthy Orange County residents who have pleaded guilty to charges related to the college admission scandal. In October, Newport Coast resident Michelle Janavs and former Sage Hill School trustee Douglas Hodge pleaded guilty in Massachusetts federal court to conspiracy charges for their roles in the college admissions scandal.

Hodge’s sentencing in Massachusetts federal court was moved from a scheduled hearing on Wednesday to Feb. 7 before U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton.

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