BOSTON (Reuters) – A former media executive was sentenced on Thursday to six weeks in prison plus a year of home confinement for participating in a vast U.S. college admissions fraud scheme by paying $525,000 to secure her children’s admission to top universities as fake athletes.
Elisbaeth Kimmel’s sentencing by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston came shortly after another wealthy parent charged in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal agreed to plead guilty and avoid a trial next month.
The expected plea by I-Hsin “Joey” Chen, who runs a California company that provides warehousing and other services for the shipping industry, leaves just one parent left to face trial in the massive case.
Prosecutors said dozens of parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to rig college entrance exams and secure the admission of students as fake athletic recruits through bribery.
Fifty-seven people were charged and 51 have struck plea deals including Singer and actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Two parents were convicted in October in the scandal’s first trial.
Prosecutors said Kimmel, a former owner of San Diego-based Midwest Television, paid Singer $275,000 in 2012 to secure her daughter’s admission to Georgetown University as a tennis recruit through a coach Singer bribed.
Kimmel also paid Singer $250,000 in 2017 so her son would get admitted to the University of Southern California as a pole vault recruit, prosecutors said.
“How can you be standing before me a convicted felon after all the advantages you had in your life?” Gorton asked Kimmel, who he also fined $250,000.
Kimmel, who for medical reasons was in a wheelchair, said she “deeply regrets” her crimes.
Prosecutors said Chen in 2018 paid $75,000 to have an associate of Singer’s proctor his son’s ACT exam and secretly correct his answers.
Chen’s plea deal calls for nine weeks in prison and a $75,000 fine.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot)