University athletic officials charged in superseding indictment in college admissions case

 

Date: September 1, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Boston – A federal grand jury in the District of Massachusetts returned a second superseding indictment today bringing additional charges against two university athletic officials in the college admissions case announced Joleen Simpson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations in Boston.

The second superseding indictment charges Gordon Ernst, the former Georgetown University tennis coach, with three counts of federal programs bribery and three counts of filing false tax returns and charges Jovan Vavic, former water polo coach at the University of Southern California, with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. An arraignment date has not yet been scheduled.

The indictment alleges that in addition to accepting bribes from William "Rick" Singer, Ernst also solicited and received bribes from three other prospective Georgetown applicants. Ernst then failed to report a significant portion of those bribe payments on his federal income tax returns. The second superseding indictment also alleges that Vavic conspired to commit federal programs bribery by soliciting and accepting bribes to facilitate the admission of students to the University of Southern California. The new charges are in addition to those brought in an earlier indictment.

Singer previously pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government's investigation.

Of the 12 coaches, administrators and employees charged in the initial indictment in March 2019, eight have pleaded guilty or agreed to do so. Defendants Gordon Ernst, Donna Heinel, Jovan Vavic and William Ferguson have pleaded not guilty.

The charge of federal programs bribery provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of filing a false tax return provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $100,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O'Connell, Leslie A. Wright, Kristen A. Kearney, Stephen E. Frank and Karin M. Bell of Lelling's Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the court documents are allegations and the remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.