By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) - A California businessman who tipped prosecutors off to a vast U.S. college admissions cheating and fraud scheme was sentenced on Wednesday to one year in prison after admitting he participated in a stock fraud.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston said that under normal circumstances, Morrie Tobin, 57, would deserve eight years in prison for trying to deceive investors out of $15 million through "pump-and-dump" schemes.
But he cited Tobin's "substantial assistance" in helping authorities probe not just that fraud but also an "infamous" scheme in which wealthy parents sought to fraudulently secure their children's admission to top universities.
The scheme's mastermind, admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer, is cooperating after admitting he facilitated college entrance exam cheating and used bribery to help children gain admission to colleges as fake athletic recruits.
To date, 55 people have been charged, including actress Lori Loughlin, who is to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty. Another defendant, test administrator Niki Williams, agreed to plead guilty Wednesday.
Tobin's lawyer, Brian Kelly, said sending him to prison sends a "terrible message" to would-be cooperating witnesses. Tobin must also pay a $100,000 fine and forfeit $4 million.
In court last year, assistant U.S. attorney Eric Rosen said the probe stemmed from an investigation into a California man's stock fraud. That man was Tobin, Kelly confirmed in court Wednesday.
Rosen said the man told investigators he was involved in a bribery scheme with Yale University's women's soccer coach, Rudolph Meredith.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation subsequently secretly recorded a meeting in which Meredith sought $450,000 for designating Tobin's daughter as a soccer recruit.
Rosen said investigators learned about Singer during that meeting. He said Meredith then agreed to record phone calls with Singer, helping prosecutors build their case against him. Meredith pleaded guilty last year.[nL1N21E14N]
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler)