2 months in prison for dad who paid $40K in ACT cheat scheme

BOSTON — The founder of a private equity firm who paid $40,000 to have someone secretly correct his daughter’s ACT exam answers was sentenced Thursday to two months in prison for his role in the college admissions bribery scheme.

Before the judge handed down his sentence, Mark Hauser cried as he asked for forgiveness and said had been driven only by a desire to help his youngest daughter, who has struggled throughout her life with serious medical issues.

“I know medical challenges are not an excuse,” Hauser said during the hearing held in Boston’s federal court. “I was in a really bad place with her struggles. I was not trying to establish prestige for myself or for my daughter. My only concern was to help her catch her breath,” he said.

Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, said during their sentencing hearings last year that Hauser was the one who recommended they work with the ringleader of the college bribery scheme, Rick Singer. Hauser used to serve as chairman of the board of the Los Angeles high school attended by Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughters.

The case against Hauser and his plea agreement was made public hours after the sentencing hearings for Loughlin and Giannulli last August. Giannulli was released from prison last month after being sentenced to five months for paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as bogus crew recruits. Loughlin served two months behind bars.

In addition to his private equity firm, Hauser also ran an insurance company. Days after prosecutors announced Hauser’s plea deal, Florida-based insurance company Brown & Brown announced that they were backing out of a deal to buy Hauser’s insurance firm for $187 million.

Hauser, who splits his time between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Los Angeles, paid Singer $40,000 to have someone pose as his daughter’s ACT proctor and secretly correct her answers, authorities said in court documents. The proctor, Mark Riddell, has also pleaded guilty in the scheme. Riddell got Hauser’s daughter a score of 31 out of 36, prosecutors have said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin O’Connell had asked for two months behind bars, saying Hauser’s actions were not a momentary lapse in judgement but a concerted effort to use his privilege to give his daughter a leg up in the admissions process.

Hauser’s lawyer had sought probation instead of prison time. Hauser pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

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