Prosecutor says fake sailor got into Stanford — admissions cost $500,000 a student

John Vandemoer was fired as Stanford's head sailing coach after an indictment was unsealed March 12 that accuses him of accepting bribes to get students into Stanford.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A Stanford student whose parents gave $500,000 to the university’s sailing program was admitted with an application that falsely claimed she was a sailor, according to federal prosecutors.

John Vandemoer, the former head sailing coach who pleaded guilty Tuesday (March 12) for his role in the $25 million admissions scheme, wrote a fraudulent athletic profile for the teen when she was applying in early 2017, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric S. Rosen said in federal court on Tuesday.

Vandemoer didn’t end up recruiting her for the team, but she was accepted through the normal admissions process partly because of her fake sailing credentials. She has no affiliation with the sailing program, university officials said Thursday (March 14).

The university has not identified the student publicly, and her parents were not among the 33 indicted on Tuesday.

“We are working to understand the circumstances around this student and will take whatever actions are appropriate based on what we learn,” university officials said in a statement.

College admissions fraudster Rick Singer, who funneled the wealthy parents’ payments to athletic directors through the nonprofit the Key Worldwide Foundation, coaches and fake proctors who corrected students’ SAT and ACT tests, gave the $500,000 to the sailing program after the teen was admitted.

Vandemoer’s charges only relate to two other students, who didn’t end up finishing the application process and weren’t admitted.

Second candidate ultimately went to Brown

After the supposed sailor was offered a spot at Stanford, Singer brought Vandemoer another candidate, “asking if it was possible to support him like he did the previous candidate,” Rosen said.

“Vandemoer agreed to do this, exchanging a recruiting spot for money directed to the Vandemoer sailing program,” Rosen said. “As partial payment for the recruiting spot, Singer sent Vandemoer $110,000 from the charity, made payable, again, to Stanford Sailing, care of the defendant.”

Vandmoer recruited that teen, but he ultimately decided to go to Brown University instead of Stanford. In August, Singer connected Vandemoer with a third candidate, a high school student from Las Vegas who had minimal, if any, sailing experience, Rosen said.

$500,000 for a Stanford admission

“Nonetheless Vandemoer agreed, almost immediately, to recruit this candidate in exchange for money, later determined on intercepted and recorded telephone calls, to be $500,000 as directed to a Stanford sailing account under his control,” Rosen said.

On Oct. 5, Singer and Vandemoer agreed over the phone that the deal was $500,000 per student, that a $160,000 payment that Singer was planning to make would be a deposit for the next student and that Singer still owed Vandemoer $340,000 for that student.

On Oct. 25, Singer mailed Vandemoer a $160,000 check, payable to Stanford Sailing, care of Vandemoer.

Money used to purchase boats

Rosen said Vandemoer used the money to “purchase boats and things for his program” rather than putting the money in his own bank account or using it for anything personal, as coaches at other schools allegedly did.

“We do believe that there was a personal benefit, just not financially to his own bank account,” Rosen said. “It’s slightly different from the other — from all the other coaches and the other — which is why we’ve offered, I believe, a sentencing range that’s about half of what the guidelines called for.”

Prosecutors are recommending that Vandemoer be sentenced to 18 months in prison, less than the 33 to 41 months calculated by the court based on the circumstances of the case.

Vandemoer will be sentenced on June 12 in Boston. Stanford officials said they had confirmed the le-
gitimate sailing credentials, prior to admission, of all sailing team members who received an athletic recommendation, going back to 2011, before Singer started his scheme.

“We fully support the incredibly accomplished and hardworking student-athletes who are members of the Stanford sailing team,” university officials said. “It is critical to emphasize that there have been no allegations about any students who are members of the Stanford sailing team.”

The team’s season will continue as planned, and ninth-year Assistant Coach Clinton Hayes is serving as interim head coach.