Ex-tennis club chief gets 3 months in prison in college scam

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BOSTON (AP) — The former president of a private tennis club in Texas was sentenced Friday to three months in prison followed by three months in home confinement for his role in the sweeping college admissions bribery scheme.

Martin Fox apologized for his actions during an appearance before a Boston judge via video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I'm ashamed for what I’ve done. My parents raised me better than this,” Fox said.

The Houston man pleaded guilty last year to a racketeering conspiracy charge in a deal with prosecutors.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of six months behind bars. Fox's lawyers urged the judge for leniency, saying he has a medical condition and and will be at risk behind bars because of the virus.

Fox acted as a middleman between the accused admissions consultant at the center of the scheme, Rick Singer, and coaches and a test administrator to facilitate cheating on children’s college entrance exams or help kids get into school as recruited athletics, prosecutors said.

Authorities said he arranged bribes to get a student into to the University of Texas as a tennis recruit, even though the student didn't play competitively. Fox also brokered a deal to get a student into the University of San Diego as a basketball recruit, prosecutors say.

He personally took at least $245,000 through the scheme and facilitated thousands of dollars in bribe payments, prosecutors said.

He is among more than three dozen people who have pleaded guilty in the case involving prominent parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the country. Singer has also pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government’s investigation into what authorities have dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, a series of indictments that have rocked the worlds of higher education, sports and entertainment.

“Full House” actor Lori Loughlin late last month reported to prison to begin serving her two-month sentence for paying $500,000 to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl is a rower. Loughlin's husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, is scheduled to report to prison next week. He was sentenced to five months in prison.