Parents charged in college cheating scam turn to consultant to understand prison life
The most high-profile defendants charged in the massive college admissions scandal are due in federal court Wednesday afternoon. Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among the 15 parents expected to go before a judge, accused of cheating to get their kids into elite universities.
Loughlin, who has remained tight-lipped about her legal strategy ahead of her federal court appearance, and her husband designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into USC by having them labeled as recruits to the school's crew team.
Huffman is charged with paying the scheme's alleged mastermind, Rick Singer, $15,000 to have a proctor correct her daughter's SATs. We're learning some parents may be considering plea deals and are seeking advice on time spent behind bars from a former convicted felon to help them make that decision.
Justin Paperny is a former stockbroker who served prison time for fraud and now works with wealthy clients as a prison consultant. He told CBS News has been hired by one parent charged in the scheme and is in talks with several others.
"They're scared and it's 'Can I survive in prison? Am I cut out for prison?'" Paperny said. "What's most surprising to me about the first conversation is how many of them didn't view their actions as criminal."
Paperny said he is helping them confront their denial while answering their basic questions about prison life, including ""What's it like? What will my job be? Can my family visit? Is there email? Is there internet?"
But Paperny said the most important conversations he's had with many are about accepting responsibility, which he believes can lead to a more lenient sentence.
"I would encourage defendants, any defendants, if they broke the law to own it, to acknowledge it, to run not walk towards taking a plea agreement," Paperny said. "Those that respond more appropriately should get better prison sentences."
CBS News learned from court documents filed Tuesday that at least one of the parents expected in court Wednesday – businessman Devin Sloane who's accused of paying a $250,000 bribe – is already in plea discussions with the government. We may soon know if others are having similar talks.
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