Varsity Blues College Admissions Cheating Scheme: Tennis Coach Pleads Guilty

According to a court filing filed Wednesday, Rhode Island tennis great Gordon Ernst, who once coached at Georgetown, has decided to plead guilty in connection with his participation in the college admissions cheating scheme that engulfed actress Lori Loughlin and other high-profile persons.

Ernst is accused of accepting nearly $3 million in bribes in exchange for passing off high school children as Georgetown tennis recruits.

According to the filings, he has agreed to plead guilty to five counts, including conspiracy, government program bribery, and filing false tax returns.

“Defendant expressly and unambiguously acknowledges that he committed the crimes alleged in Counts 4–7 and 21 of the Second Superseding Indictment, did so knowingly, purposefully, and willingly, and is in fact guilty of those offenses,” according to the document.

Federal prosecutors in Boston have agreed to propose a sentence of no more than four years in prison followed by two years of supervised release in exchange for Ernst’s guilty plea. He’d have to give up more than $3 million as well.

Ernst spent 12 years as a coach at Georgetown. Prosecutors said he took payments to get at least a dozen applicants into Georgetown as tennis recruits at that period, despite the fact that some of them did not play competitive tennis.

Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid Rick Singer $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as rowing team recruits, despite the fact that none of their children were competitive athletes.

The parents were among 50 people accused in the Varsity Blues probe, which discovered rich parents who cheated on college applications and admission examinations to get their children into prestigious institutions. Parents bribed coaches who fabricated children’s sports records in certain cases, according to authorities, including one incident when a real athlete’s headshot was altered to seem like one of the pupils.

According to the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts, the “Full House” actress was sentenced to two months in prison, a $150,000 fine, and two years of supervised release with 100 hours of community service, while her husband, a fashion designer, was sentenced to five months in prison, a $250,000 fine, and two years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service.

In December 2020, Loughlin was freed from jail. In April, Giannulli was freed.

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