Now, as they line up for sentencing, some parents are asking for mercy by arguing that Singer is as much to blame as they are.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Kearney argued that Semprevivo was hardly a patsy.

He “was no passive wallflower, or Singer’s puppet,” Kearney told the court. She said “the defendant’s audacity is breathtaking” and that he pleaded guilty “to get the benefit of an early plea and now he says he is the victim.”

Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, who has led the prosecution of the college-admissions case, called the psychologist’s report an “abuse of psychological assessment to evade personal responsibility.”

Kenner, Semprevivo’s lawyer, called the government’s suggestion that his client hadn’t accepted responsibility “disingenuous” and said he acknowledged the bribe had knocked other applicants out of the spot Semprevivo’s son got.

Still, he told the judge on Thursday, “Georgetown is not a victim of Mr. Semprevivo, in my view. It’s a victim of Gordon Ernst.”

“Rick became much more aggressive and negative,” Semprevivo, until recently chief strategy officer of Cydcor, told the criminologist he hired. “We were going down a very different road than the one I thought we were on. More than anything, I didn’t want to let Adam down. Rick said: It’s the only shot Adam had.”

The argument is a risky one, said Brad Bailey, a former federal prosecutor in Boston who isn’t involved in the case.

“These are clearly the types of arguments you’d make if you were defending the case at trial,” Bailey said, referring to the 19 parents indicted on charges including money laundering. Fifteen have pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud conspiracy. “But I can see this backfiring before a federal judge at sentencing.”

At the very first sentencing of a parent, “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman earlier this month, Talwani indicated she’s not letting parents off with probation. Even Huffman, who paid $15,000 to boost her daughter’s test scores and never participated in the elaborate bribing of coaches and doctoring of sports pictures and profiles, got two weeks.