Several coaches and athletic department administrators were charged with additional crimes for their alleged involvement in the "side door" college admissions scandal uncovered by the FBI earlier this year.
Prosecutors charged former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst with money laundering and federal programs bribery in addition to wire and mail fraud charges. Ernst, former UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo and former USC athletic administrator Donna Heinel were also charged with "soliciting and accepting bribes to facilitate the admission of students to the universities where they worked."
"Today's charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case," said Andrew Lelling, the federal prosecutor leading the U.S. Attorney's Office's case. "Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston announced in March that it had uncovered a large bribery scheme in which wealthy parents paid a total of millions of dollars to help their children gain entry into high-profile universities -- sometimes by falsely claiming the students were college-caliber athletes to help take advantage of lower admissions standards for prospective student-athletes. The scheme, orchestrated by a California-based college counselor named William "Rick" Singer, included famous parents such as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and prestigious universities such as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, USC and UCLA, among others.
More than 50 people were charged with crimes in connection to the scheme, and several parents who used Singer's services have pleaded guilty to fraud charges in previous months.
Former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavich, Wake Forest volleyball coach William Ferguson, Singer employee Mikaela Sanford and Houston-based test administrator Niki Williams were also charged with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. All of the defendants charged with crimes this week were previously arrested in March on racketeering conspiracy charges.
The new wire and mail fraud charges can lead to maximum penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The money laundering charges against Ernst could result in a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.