Natalie Delgadillo | MAY 27, 3:06 PM
Another Georgetown parent has pleaded guilty in the nationwide college admissions scandal that was unveiled last year and sent shockwaves through the country.
But unlike other parents involved in the case, 61-year-old Pennsylvanian Robert Repella wasn’t part of the wide-ranging scheme helmed by Rick Singer, the admitted mastermind of the fraud operation that helped wealthy and well-connected parents get their children into selective U.S. colleges. Instead, federal prosecutors said Tuesday, Repella engineered a bribe directly, paying Georgetown’s then-tennis coach Gordon Ernst $50,000 to recruit his daughter to the school’s tennis team.
The government is recommending a 10-month prison sentence for Repella as well as a year of probation and a $40,000 fine. “I sincerely regret and take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine and mine alone,” Repella said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post. “My family, and most importantly, my daughter, knew nothing about this. A Georgetown University review determined that the academic and athletic qualifications my daughter submitted in her application were factual and truthful and she remains a student in good standing at Georgetown.”
Ernst, the tennis coach, is also a defendant in the case, but he’s pleaded not guilty. Ernst allegedly accepted bribes to help at least 12 students earn admission to Georgetown as tennis recruits, even though some of them didn’t play the sport competitively. The university has said it didn’t know that Ernst was doing anything illegal; however, administrators fired him in 2018 after an internal investigation “discovered irregularities in the athletic credentials of students who were being recruited to play tennis.” (Georgetown still gave Ernst a recommendation for his next job.)
Last May, Georgetown dismissed two students whose parents were allegedly involved in the scheme. The father of one of those students, Stephen Semprevivo, also pleaded guilty in the case, as did a California woman named Karen Littlefair, and parents Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez.
Prosecutors charged a different Georgetown parent in the case just last week. Also last week, American actress Lori Laughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer—two of the most famous defendants in the investigation—pleaded guilty in the matter after maintaining their innocence for more than a year. Officials nicknamed the investigation “Varsity Blues.”