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Former Georgetown tennis coach to plead guilty in U.S. college admissions scandal

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Gordon Ernst, Georgetown University's former head tennis coach facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, leaves the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

BOSTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Georgetown University's former head tennis coach has agreed to plead guilty to charges arising from the U.S. college admissions scandal and admit he accepted bribes to help the children of wealthy parents get into the school as fake athletic recruits.

The plea deal with Gordon Ernst announced by federal prosecutors in Boston on Wednesday came in the midst of the first trial to result from the "Operation Varsity Blues" investigation into the nationwide college admissions bribery and fraud scheme. read more

Ernst was slated to face trial in November with three former athletics officials at two other universities.

He instead will plead guilty to charges including that he committed federal programs bribery. Prosecutors will recommend Ernst serve up no more than four years in prison, and he agreed to forfeit nearly $3.44 million he earned from the scheme.

Tracy Miner, Ernst's lawyer, declined to comment.

Ernst is one of 57 people charged over a scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to fraudulently secure college placement for their children.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of students to universities as fake athletic recruits.

Prosecutors alleged Ernst accepted $2.7 million in bribes to help children of Singer's clients gain admission to Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

Forty-six people besides Ernst have pleaded guilty, including 33 parents. Those parents include "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman.

Charges remain pending against other defendants including former Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O) executive Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder John Wilson, who went on trial this week.

Prosecutors allege they paid to fraudulently secure spots for their children at schools including the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits. They deny wrongdoing.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston Editing by Bill Berkrot

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