Latest case linked to college bribery scandal goes to trial

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FILE – Prospective students tour the campus of Georgetown University, July 10, 2013, in Washington. Amin Khoury is due on trial Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Boston on charges of bribing Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst to get his daughter into school as a freshman. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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A father accused of bribing a Georgetown University tennis coach to help his daughter get into school is set to face a jury in the latest case linked to the massive college admissions bribery scandal for go to trial.

Amin Khoury is not accused of working with the mastermind in the scheme that landed TV actresses, prominent businessmen and other wealthy parents behind bars.

Authorities say Khoury instead used another middleman to pay then-Georgetown coach Gordon Ernst in exchange for Ernst recruiting Khoury’s daughter to the tennis team, even though she was not a Georgetown caliber player.

Jury selection in the Khoury case begins Tuesday in federal court in Boston, more than three years after the first arrests in the so-called “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation. The case revealed a plot to get the children of deep-pocketed parents into elite schools with rigged test scores and bogus sports credentials.

Khoury’s attorneys did not respond to emails seeking pretrial comment. But they said in court papers that Khoury’s daughter had been properly admitted to Georgetown and that the school routinely treated children whose parents could donate huge sums of money favorably in the admissions process.

“Georgetown and the government would apparently prefer that the jury deliberate under the false impression that college admissions is a pure meritocracy, which it certainly is not,” Khoury’s attorneys said in a recent court filing.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, accused Khoury of attempting to sue Georgetown’s fundraising practices in an effort to confuse and distract jurors.

“Even if the defendant could somehow portray Georgetown as corrupt, that does not make it more or less likely that the defendant agreed to join a conspiracy or bribed a Georgetown employee to make his girl be listed as a bogus tennis recruit,” they wrote in a recent court filing.

Khoury’s father, Amin J. Khoury, founded Wellington, Fla.-based B/E Aerospace, a maker of aircraft cabin interiors that was purchased in 2017 for more than $6 billion.

Khoury is technically not part of the ‘Varsity Blues’ charge because he was not involved with the ringleader of the scheme – admissions consultant Rick Singer – who used his fake charity to funnel bribes to coaches and others. But the allegations in Khoury’s case are similar, and the coach he is accused of bribing has pleaded guilty in the Varsity Blues investigation.

The middleman is expected to testify that the deal was made when Khoury, Ernst and the middleman were in Rhode Island for a meeting at Brown University, where they all played on the tennis team, according to court documents. The intermediary was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony before the grand jury and at trial.

Ernst, who was also once the personal tennis coach of former first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, told the go-between after a reunion party that under the deal, Ernst would receive $200,000. and that the middleman would also be paid for his role, according to court documents. .

Khoury’s daughter was admitted to Georgetown in 2015. Authorities later said the middleman collected cash in a brown paper bag from Khoury’s home on Cape Cod and drove him to Ernst’s wife, who was also on Cape Cod.

After Ernst was arrested in March 2019 along with dozens of other parents and coaches, authorities say Khoury called the middleman and told him that if asked, he should say Khoury gave him the money for tennis lessons.

Ernst pleaded guilty in October to accepting bribes as part of a deal in which prosecutors agreed not to recommend more than four years behind bars.

Ernst will not testify at Khoury’s trial because he said he would be asserting his right not to incriminate himself if called to the stand, prosecutors said in a recent court filing. Ernst is expected to be sentenced in July.

Only three of the 56 people charged in Singer’s cheating scheme made it to trial, and jurors found all three guilty.

A parent has been pardoned by former President Donald Trump and a trainer has been granted a deferred prosecution agreement under which prosecutors will decide whether to dismiss his case after 24 months if he pays the fine and meets the terms of the agreement .

The remaining 51 defendants pleaded guilty. Among them are “Full House” star Lori Loughlin, who served two months behind bars, and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, who served nearly five months in prison. ‘Desperate Housewives’ actress Felicity Huffman has been sentenced to 14 days in jail for paying to fake her daughter’s SAT scores.

Sentences range from probation to 15 months behind bars. Singer is expected to be sentenced in August.

The two parents sentenced at trial – Gamal Abdelaziz, a former casino executive, and John Wilson, a former Staples Inc. executive – remain out of jail while they appeal their cases.

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Follow Alanna Durkin Richer on Twitter at twitter.com/aedurkinricher

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