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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 12, 2021

Parent in College Admissions Case Agrees to Plead Guilty

Former media company CEO will admit to paying $525,000 to facilitate her children’s admission to two universities using admissions slots reserved for recruited athletes

BOSTON – The former chief executive of a California-based media company has agreed to plead guilty in connection with her involvement in the college admissions case.

Elisabeth Kimmel, 57, of La Jolla, Calif., will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the parties have agreed to a sentence of six weeks in prison and two years of supervised release, with the first year spent in home confinement. Should the Court accept the plea, Kimmel will also be required to pay a $250,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service. A plea hearing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

As set forth in the charging document, Kimmel agreed with William “Rick” Singer and others to pay $275,000 to facilitate her daughter’s admission to Georgetown University by having Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst allegedly allocate a tennis admission slot to her daughter, even though she was not a competitive tennis player and was not actually being recruited to play on the Georgetown tennis team. Kimmel further agreed with Singer and others to pay $250,000 to facilitate her son’s admission to the University of Southern California as a pole vault recruit, even though he was not a pole vaulter.

Kimmel will be the 32nd parent to plead guilty in the case. Ernst has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in November 2021.

The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud provides for a sentence of up 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Case information, including the status of each defendant, are available here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Ramsey E. Covington, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Mark Deckett, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright, Kristen A. Kearney, Ian J. Stearns, and Stephen E. Frank of Mendell’s Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Updated August 12, 2021