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Mastermind in college admissions scam to forfeit $3.4m in cash

William “Rick” Singer left federal court in Boston after a March appearance.
William “Rick” Singer left federal court in Boston after a March appearance. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

A federal judge has approved an order compelling the admitted mastermind of the college admissions cheating scandal to hand over more than $3.4 million to the government.

William “Rick” Singer, 59, of Newport Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty in March in US District Court in Boston to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice.

At the time of his plea, a somber Singer told the court he was “absolutely responsible” for the breathtaking scam that prosecutors say grossed some $25 million over a period of several years. Singer remains free pending sentencing.

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Singer agreed to forfeit $3,429,970.87 in cash in the plea agreement. Judge Rya W. Zobel approved the forfeiture order Sept. 12, according to legal filings.

He also has to shed his sham charity’s investments in a number of entities, including Sharky’s Restaurant chain, Swansea Football Club, Virtual PhD, WhamTech Inc., Hauser Private Equity, Bluestone Partnership, and Jamtown, according to the order.

Singer’s charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation, was at the heart of the scandal, according to prosecutors.

Prosecuters say wealthy parents cut fat checks to Singer to get their children falsely designated as athletic recruits at selective schools, effectively paving their way to admission, or to facilitate cheating on their kids’ SAT and ACT exams.

The parents masked the bribes as charitable contributions to the bogus foundation, and some of the cash ended up in the pockets of corrupt coaches and college officials who were in on the brazen plot, according to legal filings.

Fifty-two defendants, including Singer, have been entangled in the scheme. The parents include Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Huffman recently got hit with a 14-day prison term for paying $15,000 for a boost on her daughter’s SAT score. Loughlin and her husband, the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are currently charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to help their daughters gain admission to USC as bogus recruits for the crew team.

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.