A former Georgetown College tennis coach who as soon as coached former President Barack Obama’s household has been sentenced to 2 and a half years in jail for pocketing greater than $3m in bribes in trade for serving to rich mother and father cheat their children’ approach into the college.
The sentence for Gordon Ernst on Friday is by far the hardest punishment handed down but within the sprawling faculty admissions bribery scandal that shone a lightweight on the lengths some wealthy mother and father will go to get their children into the nation’s most selective colleges.
Prosecutors had sought 4 years behind bars for Ernst, 55, who admitted to accepting practically $3.5m in bribes over 10 years to designate the kids of deep-pocketed mother and father as recruits regardless that they’d not usually have been accepted into the college.
In a letter written to the decide, Ernst apologised and promised to spend the remainder of his life attempting to make amends.
“There may be completely no excuse for my wrongful acts. Whereas I turned sick inside with self-hatred, I felt the sufferer and justified my actions with an inventory of grievances and a number of lies I might inform myself to be able to rationalize my habits for years,” Ernst wrote.
“Wanting again, I lacked the honesty and humility to do what was proper and ask for assist.”
In his letter, Ernst described rising up in Rhode Island with a demanding and bodily abusive father — one other Rhode Island tennis legend, the late Dick Ernst — whom he known as extra a “coach and tyrant than a dad”. Ernst’s mom informed The Boston Globe newspaper that her husband was by no means abusive.
Ernst performed hockey and tennis at Brown College in Windfall earlier than getting teaching jobs at Northwestern College and the College of Pennsylvania. He was provided the pinnacle women and men’s tennis coach job at Georgetown in 2006 and was launched by a pal two years later to admissions advisor Rick Singer, the mastermind of the bribery scheme, Ernst informed the decide.
Of the six spots Ernst received yearly to recruit tennis gamers, he often gave no less than two — and sometimes as much as 5 — to unqualified college students in trade for bribes, in line with prosecutors. Through the years, he helped practically two dozen college students fraudulently get into the college, Assistant US Lawyer Kristen Kearney informed the decide.
And in contrast to among the different coaches charged within the case who have been bribed within the type of cash for his or her sports activities programmes, Ernst pocketed virtually the entire cash for himself, prosecutors stated. He used the bribe cash to pay for his daughters’ costly personal faculty tuition and purchase a house on Cape Cod, Kearney stated.
Defence legal professionals requested the decide for a sentence of a few yr, saying in court docket papers that Ernst, just like the tragic Greek mythological determine Icarus, “flew too near the solar and forgot his wings have been manufactured from wax”.
Surrounded by households with wealth and status at Georgetown, Ernst informed himself he was not hurting anybody or his workforce by accepting the bribes, his legal professionals wrote.
Ernst has tried to show his life round since his 2019 arrest and has labored part-time as a tennis teacher, hockey referee, and rental automotive cleaner, Ernst’s legal professionals stated.
“Gordie has fallen from the White Home to the tabloids – a fall from grace far longer than the Courtroom sees in a typical case,” his legal professionals wrote.
Ernst left Georgetown in 2018 after an inner investigation launched over what the college described as “irregularities within the athletic credentials” of scholars he was recruiting concluded that he violated admissions guidelines.
He was later employed by the College of Rhode Island, which claimed it was not informed concerning the admissions guidelines violations. He resigned from that college shortly after his arrest.
Ernst is amongst 54 individuals who have been convicted within the Operation Varsity Blues case that exploded into headlines in March 2019.
The final defendant linked to the investigation to go to trial was acquitted by jurors on all counts final month. One other defendant was pardoned by former President Donald Trump and a 3rd defendant received a deal that’s anticipated to result in the dismissal of his case.
Earlier than Friday, the hardest punishment had been 15 months in jail for John Wilson, a former Staples Inc govt convicted by jurors of paying $220,000 to have his son designated as a College of Southern California water polo recruit and an extra $1m to purchase his twin daughters’ methods into Harvard and Stanford. Wilson maintains that he’s harmless and stays free whereas he appeals his case.
Solely a handful of defendants stay to be sentenced.
They embrace the scheme’s mastermind, Singer, who pleaded responsible in 2019 to a slew of costs. Singer secretly started cooperating with investigators earlier than the case turned public and helped the federal government construct the in depth prosecution. He’s anticipated to be sentenced in September.