Ninth Georgetown parent pleads guilty in Varsity Blues admissions scandal

August 20, 2021


Elisabeth Kimmel joined the ranks of Georgetown parents indicted and admitting guilt in the college admissions scandal last week, heading off a September trial. 

Kimmel, a former media executive, is accused of paying over half a million dollars to ensure her daughter’s acceptance to Georgetown, and her son’s acceptance to the University of Southern California. As with many other students accepted through Operation Varsity Blues, the two were slotted in as athletes, though neither intended to play competitively in school. 

The scandal was first exposed in a 2019 FBI report revealing wealthy parents paid thousands of dollars to fraudulently secure spots for their children at elite universities. 

On Aug. 12, Kimmel pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Under her plea agreement, she will receive a sentence of six weeks in prison and two of supervised release. She will serve the first year under house arrest. Kimmel will also be required to pay a $250,000 fine and complete 500 hours of community service. The charge carried a possible maximum sentence of 20 years. 

Kimmel is the tenth Georgetown parent charged in connection with Operation Varsity Blues, and the ninth to plead guilty. Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez, Stephen Semprevivo, Michelle Janavs, Douglas Hodge, Karen Littlefair, Peter Dameris, and Robert Repella all pled guilty and have already been sentenced, while Amin C. Khoury maintains his innocence. 

Like many of the other parents, Kimmel is accused of facilitating the admission through former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, paying $275,000 to reserve a spot on the team for her daughter in 2012. Her daughter never played on the team. 

Ernst, who is currently in negotiations for a plea deal with the government, earned nearly $3 million from at least a dozen transactions with Georgetown parents through his collaboration with corrupt admissions counselor William “Rick” Singer. Ernst, who has not been associated with Georgetown since 2017, has been charged with three counts of federal programs bribery, three counts of filing false tax returns, aiding and abetting wire and mail fraud, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy, federal programs bribery conspiracy, racketeering, federal programs bribery, and money laundering.

Singer worked with over 750 families, using his organizations, the Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College and Career Network, to help students cheat on standardized tests or bribe college athletic recruiters. Singer pled guilty in 2019, but has not been charged. So far, 57 parents have been charged in association with Singer to fraudulently admit their children to universities. 

Annemarie Cuccia
Annemarie is an avid Voice reader and former editor-in-chief. She hopes she left the magazine better than she found it.

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