Wealthy dad acquitted in final trial of college admissions bribery scandal
A wealthy father was acquitted of bribing a Georgetown University tennis coach with hundreds of thousands of dollars to get his daughter into the elite school in the final trial of the national college admissions cheating scandal. Amin Khoury’s case was the 57th one tied to the “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation that saw 54 defendants plead guilty or get convicted at trial, including actors Lori Loughlin, who served two months in prison, and Felicity Huffman, who served 11 days. Khoury’s case was the only one to end in a trial acquittal. He was found not guilty by jurors of conspiracy and mail fraud charges from accusations that he bribed former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst with a brown paper bag full of cash in exchange for securing his daughter a roster spot on the team. Khoury’s attorney argued that his client’s daughter was admitted to Georgetown on her own merit, saying that the school regularly favors children of wealthy parents.
Prosecutors said Khoury handed a bag of cash to Timothy Donovan in 2015 at his Cape Cod home to give to Ernst. The three all played tennis together at Brown University and prosecutors said the deal came together while the three were at a reunion at the Ivy League school. Khoury’s defense team argued that the cash was a gift to Ernst, who was struggling financially at the time because he was not able to host his private tennis camps at Georgetown while the school constructed a new athletic center. “What did the Georgetown family do for him? They did nothing,” Black told jurors during his closing argument. “They abandoned him. The only family that helped him was the Khoury family and they want to turn that into a crime.”
The defense claimed Donovan “made up” that story to avoid being charged for tax crimes. Assistant US Attorney Kristen Kearney told jurors that Khoury’s daughter didn’t have the academic record to get into Georgetown and was ranked at the bottom of her high school tennis team, which was ranked at the bottom of its league. “She had no chance of getting in on merit,” she argued. In total, over 50 “Operation Varsity Blues” parents pleaded guilty and three others were convicted at trial. Another parent was pardoned by former President Donald Trump and another coach had his case dismissed after agreeing to pay a fine. John Wilson, a former Staples Inc. executive, received the longest sentence at 15 months after he was found guilty of paying bribes to get his son into USC as a water polo recruit and his twin daughters into Harvard and Stanford.