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Ex-Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty in college admissions case

Gordon Ernst took bribes to help get students into the Washington, D.C., school. A plea deal calls for between one and four years in prison.

A former Georgetown University tennis coach on Monday pleaded guilty to taking bribes as part of a massive college admissions cheating scheme, federal prosecutors said.

The scheme, masterminded by William "Rick" Singer and taken down in an investigation known as "Operation Varsity Blues," involved wealthy parents paying for their children to be admitted to top colleges with faked test scores or falsely as athletic recruits.

Gordon Ernst, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery; federal programs bribery; and filing a false tax return, prosecutors said.

A plea agreement calls for at least one year in prison, although any sentence will ultimately be up to a judge.

Ernst took bribes to help get students admitted to Georgetown as student-athletes, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said.

Ernst had left Georgetown by the time dozens of parents and others were charged in the nationwide scheme in March 2019. He was at the University of Rhode Island but resigned amid the scandal.

Ernst's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

He agreed to recommend a sentence of at least one year, and prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than four years, according to court documents. He also agreed to a forfeiture of around $3.4 million, which the plea agreement says is the proceeds he derived from the crimes.

Gordon Ernst, former head coach of the men's and women's tennis teams at Georgetown University, leaves following his arraignment at Boston Federal Court, in Boston, on March 25, 2019.Scott Eisen / Getty Images file

Among the wealthy parents charged in the sprawling admissions case who ultimately served time in prison were "Full House" actor Lori Loughlin and "Desperate Housewives" actor Felicity Huffman.

Singer has also pleaded guilty but has not been sentenced.

Most of the cases resolved so far have been through guilty pleas. Earlier this month, the first parents who took the case to trial were convicted by a jury.