The parade of wealthy parents getting jail time for conning their kids’ way into college began last week when Felicity Huffman got 14 days, and it’s continuing with Devin Sloane, founder of a water treatment company, who was just sentenced to four months in prison.
While Sloane is not anywhere near as famous as Huffman, a literal Desperate Housewife, he’s on his way to becoming more infamous because his crime is way, way funnier.
Huffman simply paid to falsify some SAT scores. Sloane paid to get his son recruited to play collegiate water polo despite the fact that he didn’t play water polo at all. His school, in fact, didn’t have a water polo team.
But if you’re Devin Sloane, that’s but a small obstacle on your way to getting whatever the hell you want because, hey, you’re a rich guy.
Step 1: Make some illicit payments: $50,000 directly to the USC women’s athletics department and $200,000 through a bogus charity to Rick Singer, the guy behind the entire scandal.
Step 2: Come up with some “evidence” that your son is an avid water poloist. That means buying a bunch of gear—a Speedo, a water polo ball, and an Italy flag cap—from Amazon and staging pictures in the family pool. Sloane worked with a graphic designer to make them extra authentic, but it probably would have been a better idea not to take them in an infinity pool, a venue not typically known for hosting serious athletic competitions.
Step 3: Deny, deny, deny. Sloane apparently expressed outrage when the college counselors at his son’s school asked why USC—incidentally one of the top college water polo programs in the country and winner of the 2018 Men’s NCAA national championship—was recruiting a kid who didn’t even play the sport.
“Hope this works,” Sloane wrote to Singer when he sent him the photos. If his goal was to make himself a cartoonishly inept rich guy on his way to prison, it definitely did.