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Ex-media CEO Elisabeth Kimmel sentenced to prison in college admissions scam

A woman is pushed in a wheelchair, her face obscured by the hood of her jacket.
Elisabeth Kimmel, of La Jolla, Calif., is wheeled into federal court for a sentencing hearing on Dec. 9, 2021, in Boston.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

The former chief executive of a media company who authorities say paid more than $500,000 to get her two children into elite universities as bogus athletic recruits was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment Thursday.

Elisabeth Kimmel, 57, of Las Vegas, was the 29th parent to be sentenced in the Operation Varsity Blues nationwide college admissions bribery scandal, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

She also was sentenced to two years of probation, with the first year to be spent in home confinement, and 500 hours of community service and fined $250,000, prosecutors said.

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Under a plea deal announced in August, Kimmel had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Federal prosecutors accused top CEOs, two Hollywood actresses and others of taking part in an audacious scheme to get their children into elite universities through fraud, bribes and lies.

Kimmel agreed with William “Rick” Singer — a college admissions consultant and ringleader of the plot — and others to pay $275,000 to get her daughter admitted to Georgetown University as a tennis recruit, even though the girl was not a competitive tennis player, prosecutors said.

Gordon Ernst, the former Georgetown tennis coach, allegedly allocated a tennis admission slot to Kimmel’s daughter, according to prosecutors. Ernst pleaded guilty to a variety of charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in March.

Kimmel, the former head of Midwest Television Inc., also agreed with Singer and others to pay $250,000 to get her son admitted to the University of Southern California as a pole vault recruit, even though he was not a pole vaulter, prosecutors said.

Kimmel had previously pleaded not guilty and sought to have the charges dismissed. Singer previously pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government’s investigation. He too is awaiting sentencing.

Dozens of famous and wealthy parents, as well as about a dozen college coaches and athletic administrators, have been charged in the conspiracy, which involved large bribes to get undeserving children into elite U.S. universities with rigged test scores or inflated athletic accomplishments.

The defendants included actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, as well as Loughlin’s fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli. All three have already pleaded guilty and served their sentences.


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