DOCUMENT: College, Crime

Wealthy Exec Bribed Two Kids Into College

Feds: Charity used for 500k in illegal payoffs

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College Scam

MARCH 12--Among the multitude of grotesqueries found in criminal charges detailing a nationwide college admissions scandal is the alleged behavior of Elisabeth Meyer Kimmel, a wealthy media executive who lives on a sprawling La Jolla, California estate.

The 54-year-old Kimmel heads Midwest Television, a firm she inherited from her late father. Kimmel, who appears to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, last year sold TV and radio stations in San Diego for $325 million. The media executive and her husband Gregory are board members of a family charitable foundation with $27 million in assets.

According to a U.S. District Court complaint, Kimmel illegally schemed to get her daughter and son admitted to Georgetown and USC, respectively. In both instances, federal prosecutors allege, Kimmel conspired with others to grease acceptance to the schools by falsely portraying her children as Division I athletic recruits.

As part of the scheme, Kimmel used her family’s charitable foundation to pay more than $500,000 in bribes, prosecutors charge.

Kimmel and her husband are pictured above flanking their son Thomas at his June 2018 high school graduation.

With the help of intermediaries and a corrupt Georgetown coach, Kimmel conspired to “use bribery” to facilitate her daughter’s admission to the Washington, D.C. school. Kimmel and her cohorts falsely portrayed her daughter as a “ranked player” and a “purported tennis recruit,” investigators allege.

In return for her daughter’s admittance to Georgetown, Kimmel paid $275,000. The money came from her family’s charitable foundation. The Georgetown tennis coach, prosecutors allege, eventually received a total of $244,000 in bribe payments.  

Kimmel’s daughter graduated from Georgetown in 2017. She “was not a member of the tennis team during her four years” at the university, investigators noted.

In 2017, as Kimmel’s son Thomas was applying to USC, his mother and several coconspirators falsely claimed that the teen was an “elite high school pole vaulter.” In an athletic profile prepared by one of Kimmel’s alleged cohorts, a photo of a young pole vaulter clearing the bar at 14’ was included.

However, the boy in the photo (seen above) was not Kimmel’s son, who never participated in track and field while enrolled at The Bishop’s School, a private La Jolla prep school.

Additionally, Thomas’s application to USC falsely claimed that he was a “3 year Varsity Letterman” in track and was “one of the top pole vaulters in the state of California.”

After Thomas Kimmel was admitted to USC, the family’s charitable foundation made a $50,000 payment to the school’s Women’s Athletics Board. A second payment, for $200,000, went from the foundation to a group controlled by William Rick Singer, the mastermind of the nationwide cheating ring who has been cooperating with federal prosecutors and today pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges.

Prosecutors have charged four members of USC’s athletics staff with involvement in Singer’s operation. One of those accused, Donna Heinel, “presented Kimmel’s son to the USC subcommittee for athletic admissions as a purported track and field recruit.”

While probing Kimmel, agents determined that her son was unaware that he had been admitted to USC as a recruited athlete. His mother’s alleged illegal machinations were apparently done behind the student's back.  

During a series of calls recorded by Singer, Kimmel appears to incriminate herself in the scheme. In an October 2018 conversation, Singer (identified as cooperating witness 1, or “CW-1,” in court filings) claims to be under an IRS audit and refers to monies paid by Kimmel for the Georgetown and USC acceptances.

“Essentially what I’m going to tell the IRS is that your donations were made to my foundation to fund underserved kids...So I just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page,” said Singer. Kimmel replied, “Oh, well, as far as I know, I don’t know what you’ve done with the money I gave your foundation. I mean, I, you never really told me.” “Okay, that’s, that’s perfect,” Singer answered. (11 pages)