By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — A former Georgetown University tennis coach accused of accepting greater than $2 million in bribes to assist children get into the varsity will plead responsible in the sweeping faculty admissions scandal, in accordance to court docket paperwork filed Wednesday.
Gordon Ernst’s resolution to plead responsible comes as the primary trial in the huge case that ensnared rich mother and father and athletic coaches throughout the nation is being held in Boston’s federal court docket.
Ernst, who was scheduled to go on trial in November, agreed to admit to expenses together with conspiracy to commit federal applications bribery, in accordance to the court docket information. His legal professional declined to touch upon Wednesday.
Prosecutors agreed to suggest a sentence of not more than 4 years in jail, in accordance to the plea settlement. Ernst has promised to ask for at least a 12 months behind bars.
Ernst, who was the pinnacle women and men’s tennis coach at Georgetown, was arrested in March 2019 together with greater than 4 dozen others in the so-called “Operation Varsity Blues” case that exposed a scheme to get underserving children into elite universities with rigged take a look at scores or bogus athletic credentials.
Ernst was charged with getting bribes from the admissions advisor on the heart of the scheme, Rick Singer, in trade for designating a number of candidates as Georgetown tennis recruits.
Ernst, who additionally was the private tennis coach for former first woman Michelle Obama and her daughters, left Georgetown in 2018 after an inner investigation launched over what the varsity described as “irregularities in the athletic credentials” of students he was recruiting concluded that he violated admissions rules.
He was later hired by the University of Rhode Island, which claimed it wasn’t told about the admissions rules violations. He resigned from that school shortly after his arrest.
Ernst had been fighting the charges for more than two years and was set to stand trial alongside the former senior associate athletic director at USC, Donna Heinel, and two other coaches: ex-USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic and former Wake Forest University women’s volleyball coach William Ferguson.
A total of 57 people have been charged in the case and nearly four dozen have already pleaded guilty.
The longest sentence handed out so far has been nine months given to the former CEO of the Pacific Investment Management Co., Douglas Hodge, who paid bribes totaling $850,000 to get four of his children into USC and Georgetown as athletic recruits.
Two parents — former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz and former Staples and Gap Inc. executive John Wilson — are on trial on charges that they paid hundreds of thousands dollars to help get their kids into the University of Southern California by falsely presenting them as athletic recruits. Wilson is also accused of shelling out more than $1 million to buy his twin daughters’ ways into Harvard and Stanford.
The trial is expected to last several weeks. Defense lawyers told jurors during their opening statements on Monday that the parents were duped by Singer and led to believe that their payments were legitimate donations.
Singer, who began cooperating with investigators in 2018 and secretly recorded his phone calls with the parents, was expected to be a key witness for the government. But prosecutors told jurors on Monday they will not call him to the stand.
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