A California licensed lawyer, media executive and Harvard Law School graduate, whose husband is a former San Diego prosecutor, is among those facing accusations of using bribes to win their children’s way into prestigious schools across the country.
Elisabeth Kimmel, the longtime president of San Diego-based Midwest Television, was charged Tuesday in relation to her efforts to get her daughter into Georgetown University and her son into the University of Southern California. Her husband, Gregory Kimmel, has not been charged, but is prominently mentioned in charging documents.
Both were members of the State Bar of California, but both are listed as inactive in bar records.
Prosecutors allege that Elisabeth Kimmel paid $475,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation, a purported charity. The payments came out of the Meyer Charitable Foundation, a family foundation on which Elisabeth and Gregory Kimmel both serve as officers, with the money classified as a donation, charging documents said.
Gregory Kimmel spent 15 years as a prosecutor, mostly as a deputy district attorney in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 2005. He started his career in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, after going to law school at USC. He is now the president and CEO of Wireless Telematics.
Elisabeth Kimmel started at Midwest Television as general counsel in 1993. According to her LinkedIn profile, she was an attorney at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp for three years before that, after graduating from Harvard Law School. Midwest Television sold its San Diego broadcast and radio stations to Tegna Inc. last year.
Elisabeth Kimmel did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon. Efforts to reach Gregory Kimmel at Wireless Telematics were unsuccessful. No attorney for Elisabeth Kimmel has been listed in federal court records.
Prosecutors allege that Kimmel used bribes to get her daughter into Georgetown as a tennis recruit, and her son into USC as a track and field recruit.
Using Kimmel’s money, KWF allegedly paid Georgetown’s tennis coach $244,000 in multiple installments between 2012 and 2013, and more than $200,000 to an athletics director and water polo coach at USC.
Charging documents detailed a wiretapped telephone exchange in which both Elisabeth and Gregory Kimmel spoke with a cooperating witness from KWF about their son’s orientation at USC. Their son did not know he was listed as a pole vaulter on the university’s records, but an adviser at orientation said he was.
“Apparently the advisor said something to the effect of, ‘Oh, so you’re a track athlete?’ And [my son] said, ‘No.’ ’Cause, so [my son] has no idea, and that’s what—the way we want to keep it,” Gregory Kimmel said on the call, according to the documents.
Later, Elisabeth Kimmel added, “so we have to hope this advisor doesn’t start poking around?” the documents said.
In another call, Elisabeth Kimmel asked the cooperating witness why her son was getting emails about track practice, charging documents said. Referring to her son, she said, laughing, “he’s still in the dark.”