Oklahoma residents who have been following the recent college admissions scandal are likely aware that sentences have been handed down to some of the parents involved. On Oct. 4, a judge in California sent a 53-year-old man to prison for five months and fined him $100,000. The man will also serve 500 hours of community service when he is released from federal custody.

The sentence is the harshest yet handed down in connection with a scandal that has rocked several prominent universities and tarnished the reputations of celebrities including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman was recently sentenced to 14 days in prison for paying a college consultant to improve her daughter’s SAT scores. Loughlin denies paying the consultant $500,000 to secure her daughter’s admission to the University of Southern California.

The man sentenced on Oct. 4 pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of honest services mail fraud. His sentence was reportedly harsher than the ones handed down to Huffman and three other parents because he paid the consultant to both improve his child’s SAT scores and secure her admission to USC by fabricating athletic credentials. Federal prosecutors have charged 52 people with white-collar crimes in connection with the scandal. Loughlin is one of 19 parents who have denied any wrongdoing.

Establishing reasonable doubt can be challenging in cases like these because the most important pieces of evidence are usually documents and financial records that speak for themselves. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise individuals charged with crimes like fraud or embezzlement to consider a negotiated plea deal when the evidence against them is formidable. Federal prosecutors might be willing to make significant concessions to avoid the risks of a jury trial.