A wealthy businessman accused of bribing his daughter at Georgetown University as a tennis player was acquitted on all counts by a federal jury in Boston on Thursday, the first not-guilty verdict linked to the Varsity Blues government investigation into corrupt college admissions.
Businessman Amin Khoury has been accused of giving $180,000 in cash to Gordon Ernst, the Georgetown tennis coach, to facilitate his daughter’s recruitment to the team and admission to college, even though she wasn’t a Georgetown caliber player. The money went through an intermediary, delivered in a paper bag, prosecutors said.
After the verdict, one of Mr Khoury’s lawyers, Roy Black, said the verdict showed the jury had agreed with the defense’s argument that college admissions is not pure meritocracy and that Georgetown cultivated candidates from families who could afford to donate generously. at University.
“I tried to point out to the jury that the federal government had no role in getting into these private companies,” Mr. Black said in an interview. “These schools are private companies that spend 24/7 fundraising, and there is no taxpayer money involved, no government officials involved, no government policies. So #1, the feds shouldn’t be involved in this.
Mr Black said the defense had a document – which he referred to in his opening statement but was unable to produce at trial – which showed Georgetown researched the financial history of potential donor relatives, including Mr. Khoury.
Recent issues on US college campuses
- Registration crisis: New data shows that 662,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs in the spring of 2022 compared to the previous year, a drop of 4.7%.
- President of Harvard: Lawrence S. Bacow, who led the university through the pandemic as well as an attack on its admissions policies, announced he would step down in 2023.
- Affirmative Action: As the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the legality of two race-conscious admissions programs, a lawyer who helped draft Texas’ abortion ban has offered a new avenue for critics of the affirmative action.
- Freedom of speech: A legal scholar who wrote that President Biden would appoint a ‘lesser black woman’ to the Supreme Court has been cleared for a new position in Georgetown after an investigation. He decided to quit anyway.
“Georgetown had a team of people who researched what the father did, what his income was, how much their house cost,” Mr Black said. “They thought they could get between one and five million from him, it’s so cynical.”
He added: “We have proven beyond any doubt that wealth is a huge factor in gaining admission to these elite universities – I’m not talking about government-funded universities, I’m talking about Ivy Leagues and Georgetowns.”
Mr. Khoury is involved in financial investment. His father, Amin J. Khoury, was one of the founders of B/E Aerospace, a manufacturer of aircraft cabin interior products.
In a statement, Rachael S. Rollins, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said the government was disappointed with the verdict, but comforted that dozens of successful lawsuits against Varsity Blues “have brought about enormous change and systems in the college admissions process,” and showed how wealth and privilege can skew a supposedly merit-based system.
Although prosecutors presented the Khoury case in a very similar way to the other cases, it was different in that it did not involve William Singer, a college admissions consultant, who pleaded guilty to have helped dozens of parents get their children admitted to elite schools. by bribery, fake SAT scores, and forged credentials.
Mr Black said he thought having Mr Khoury’s daughter, Katherine, at the helm ‘to tell the story that she was a tennis player, wanted to play tennis’, also assistance. She has since graduated from Georgetown and earned a master’s degree in commerce from Fordham, he said.
Mr. Ernst, the former tennis coach, pleaded guilty last fall to soliciting and accepting bribes to help students get into college.
Khoury’s verdict was extraordinary in that it came after a series of guilty pleas by other parents caught up in the college admissions scandal, and after two other parents tried their luck at trial, John Wilson, a former Gap and Staples executive, and Gamal Abdelaziz, a former casino executive, were convicted. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Abdelaziz, who have advanced similar arguments, are appealing.
Susan C. Beachy contributed to the research.