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Former Georgetown University Tennis Coach Gordon Ernst was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on Friday for his involvement in the college admissions cheating ring that was busted by federal authorities in an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, the longest sentence to date out of dozens of people who have been charged for their role in the scheme.
Ernst—who acknowledged he took more than $3.4 million in bribes from the scheme’s ringleader, William “Rick” Singer, in exchange for giving more than 20 people spots as Georgetown tennis recruits—was sentenced by a U.S. District Judge in Boston after pleading guilty last October to conspiracy and bribery charges.
Prosecutors alleged Ernst accepted more bribes than any other coach in the scandal since he began participating in the scheme around 2008.
Ernst, 55, must also give back the $3.43 million of bribes he accepted.
Prosecutors were seeking a four-year prison sentence for Ernst, who wrote in a letter to the judge there was “no excuse” for his “wrongful acts” and whose defense lawyers were asking for roughly one year in prison for the former tennis coach.
More than 50. That’s how many people have been charged, while more than 40 have been sentenced so far for crimes related to the $25 million scandal.
Many of the dozens of people implicated in the scheme, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, have pleaded guilty. Singer was paid millions of dollars from parents of college applicants to help ensure their children got into schools by faking test scores and bribing college officials to designate unqualified students as college sports team recruits. Prison time for others sentenced in the scheme has ranged from one day for a former Stanford University sailing coach to more than a year for former senior Staples executive John Wilson. Ernst’s sentencing comes a month after a federal jury found one of the parents who prosecutors alleged paid Ernst not guilty of bribery and fraud charges. A prep school administrator in April was sentenced to four months in prison for taking students’ tests for them.
Former Georgetown Tennis Coach Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison (Wall Street Journal)
Final Parent in College-Admissions Cheating Case Found Not Guilty (Wall Street Journal)
Operation Varsity Blues: Ex-USC Coach Convicted Of Fraud, Test-Taker Gets Four Months In Prison (Forbes)