California mom sentenced to 5 weeks in prison after paying to have online classes taken for her son
© Getty Images

A California mother who paid $9,000 for a stand-in to take four online courses for her son was sentenced to five weeks in prison on Wednesday.

Karen Littlefair of Newport Beach, Calif. said Wednesday that she is “truly sorry” for her actions, saying that the experience has been a “nightmare” for her family.

“I acted out of love for my son but I ended up hurting my son greatly," said Littlefair, appearing over a videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reported.


She pleaded guilty in January to a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Littlefair is one of over 50 people who were charged in the college admissions scandal that sought to get the children of wealthy parents into elite colleges by cheating on tests and faking other credentials, according to a Wednesday statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.

After Littlefair’s son, James Littlefair, was put on academic probation by Georgetown University, the woman hired Rick Singer, the admissions consultant at the center of the scandal, to have someone take four courses for the then-student – three of which were taken online through Georgetown and one that was taken online through Arizona State University. The courses were taken between 2017 and 2018.

James Littlefair graduated from Georgetown in May 2019.

Karen Littlefair sought a discount for the courses after her son received a “C” in one of the classes taken for him, the AP reported.

U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs on Wednesday also ordered Littlefair to pay a $209,000 fine and serve 300 hours of community service.

Burroughs told the California socialite Wednesday that she taught her son “it’s OK to cheat, it’s OK to take shortcuts.”

“You’re supposed to get more by earning it and working for it and I think that’s a lesson your son needs to learn and sadly he's going to learn it the hard way here,” the judge said, according to the AP. 

Prosecutors had previously sought four months in prison for the California socialite.

James Littlefair’s degree from Georgetown has since been revoked. He resigned from his position as an advance staffer for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin last year.