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12 Facing Federal Racketeering Charges In College Admissions Scandal Plead Not Guilty

This article is more than 4 years old.

Twelve people — including several former coaches at prestigious colleges — pleaded not guilty Friday to racketeering and conspiracy charges in a Boston federal court in connection to the nationwide college admissions scandal announced this month.

Prosecutors are accusing the defendants of taking bribes to arrange for students' admissions to elite private universities.

The defendants are among the group of about 50 individuals who have been charged in connection with the scandal.

Here's more on the 12 defendants who entered not guilty pleas Friday:

  1. Igor Dvorskiy is the former director of a private school in West Hollywood, Calif., that served as a center for standardized testing. Prosecutors say he took bribes to allow a man named Mark Riddell to take tests for students or to substitute his own answers for students. Prosecutors say Dvorskiy received $10,000 for each student.
  2. Gordon Ernst is the former head coach of men and women’s tennis at Georgetown University. Prosecutors say he received bribes falsely labeled as “consulting fees” of more than $2.7 million to let in at least 12 students as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play tennis competitively. If convicted of racketeering, prosecutors are asking that Ernst forfeit his Falmouth, Mass., home and his membership in the Chevy Chase Country Club, Washington’s most exclusive country club.
  3. William Ferguson was the women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Prosecutors say he took $100,000 in bribes to let a student onto the team.
  4. Martin Fox was the president of a private tennis academy in Houston, Texas.
  5. Donna Heinel was fired from her job as senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California after her indictment in the scandal. Prosecutors say accounts she controlled at USC received $1.3 million from parents. Prosecutors also say Rick Singer, the alleged mastermind of the college admissions fraud, paid her $20,000 a month from charitable accounts for “consulting.” Prosecutors say in exchange, she facilitated the admission of more than two dozen students as recruited athletes, even though many of those students had fabricated credentials and some did not even play the sports they were recruited for.
  6. Laura Janke is a former assistant coach of women’s soccer at USC. Prosecutors say she helped fabricate student profiles to get them into USC and Stanford University.
  7. Ali Khosroshahin was the head coach of women’s soccer at USC. Prosecutors say he took $50,000 in bribes to help two students onto the soccer team.
  8. Steven Masera, a former employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, who prosecutors say sent phony charitable contribution receipts to parents. They also claim he paid the bribes to Dvorskiy.
  9. Jorge Salcedo was the head men’s soccer coach at the University of California at Los Angeles. Prosecutors say he took $250,000 in bribes to let two students on the soccer team.
  10. Mikaela Sanford was an employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation. Prosecutors say she helped fabricate student profiles to get them into colleges, and that she took online high school classes for some students.
  11. Jovan Vavic, who was also fired by USC from his job coaching the water polo team, was also in court. Prosecutors say his water polo team received $250,000 in exchange for designating two students as recruits. The government also says Singer paid for private school for Vavic’s children under the guise of a fabricated scholarship via checks drawn on The Key Worldwide Foundation [KWF] charitable accounts in exchange for Vavic letting Singer's future clients onto the water polo team. Singer was the CEO of KWF, a non-profit "he established as a purported charity," the Justice Department has said.
  12. Niki Williams was an assistant teacher at a Houston high school and test administrator for the College Board and ACT. The government accuses her of accepting bribes as part of the college entrance exam cheating scheme. Like Dvorskiy, she is accused of allowing Riddell to take exams in place of students or to correct their answers.


Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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