Former Key Worldwide Employee Sentenced in College Admissions Case

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

BOSTON – A former employee of William “Rick” Singer’s “The Key” for-profit business was sentenced today for her involvement in a scheme to use bribery and fraud to facilitate the admission of applicants to colleges nationwide.

Mikaela Sanford, 35, of Folsom, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to time served and one year of supervised release and was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $67,062. In October 2020, Sanford pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Sanford, who was employed by “The Key,” took online classes for students so that the students could submit the grades Sanford earned in their names as part of their application packages to colleges and universities. In other instances, Sanford helped fabricate athletic “profiles” and other documents to bolster students’ college applications by making the students appear to be highly successful high school athletes when, in fact, they were not.

Case information, including the status of each defendant, is available here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Terry Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Eastern Regional Office, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen E. Frank, Kristen A. Kearney, Ian J. Stearns and Leslie Wright of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.