San Diego

La Jolla Woman, 15 Others Face New Charge in College Admissions Cheating Scandal

Elisabeth Kimmel, former owner of KFMB-TV, Channel 8, is now also accused of conspiracy to commit money laundering

A La Jolla woman accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get her children admitted into elite universities faces another serious felony charge.

Elisabeth Kimmel, who owns a luxury home above the Pacific Ocean and a condo in Las Vegas, is one of 16 parents charged by a federal grand jury Monday in Boston.

Kimmel and the other parents already faced a felony mail and wire fraud charge for their alleged role in the massive college admissions bribery scandal.

Monday’s indictment adds an allegation of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According the federal prosecutors, Kimmel and 15 other parents “conspired to launder the bribes and other payments by funneling them through (consultant William “Rick”) Singer’s purported charity and his for-profit corporation, as well as by transferring money into the United States for the purpose of promoting the fraud scheme.”

Other defendants facing that additional felony charge include actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, both of Los Angeles.

An arraignment date on the new charge, which is contained in a superseding indictment, has not been set. None of the defendants have entered a plea on the charges.

Despite Monday’s additional charge, veteran San Diego criminal defense attorney Gretchen von Helms said it’s very possible that Kimmel and the other defendants will reach a settlement with prosecutors and avoid a criminal trial.

Fourteen other defendants, including actress Felicity Huffman, pleaded guilty Monday to a single count of mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Attorney von Helms, who does not represent any of the bribery scandal defendants, said it’s likely that most of the defendants will serve a very brief time in custody as a result of their plea bargains.

“You don’t have to put people into prison to punish them,” von Helms said. “Punishment can be extracted in a variety of different ways. The judge can put them on probation, restrict their travel, and fine them.”

Von Helms noted that, “This is not a crime of violence. Nobody stabbed anybody, robbed anybody.”

“These are different types of crimes that used financial instruments and influence. So it doesn’t necessarily invoke the same wrath in a judge that a crime of violence would invoke,” von Helms said.

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