BOSTON (AP) – Fifty people have been charged in what federal officials say is the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Justice Department, including a coach now at the University of Rhode Island.
Among those charged are nine coaches of elite schools and 33 parents who prosecutors say paid “enormous sums” to guarantee their children’s admission.
Coaches are accused of taking bribes to admit students at schools including Wake Forest University, Georgetown University and the University of Southern California.
Women’s tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who came to the University of Rhode Island from Georgetown last year, is charged in a federal indictment with accepting more than $2.7 million in bribes to designate at least a dozen applicants to Georgetown as recruits for the tennis team, including some who did not play competitively.
Ernst, who is a member of the New England Tennis Hall of Fame, has not yet responded to the charges.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in Boston said Tuesday at a news conference that the colleges are not targets of the continuing investigation. He says authorities believe other parents were involved.
Court documents say an admissions consulting company in California was paid $25 million from 2011 through February 2019 to help facilitate the bribes.
Parents charged include actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Representatives for Loughlin had no comment.
Officials say parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children’s admission.