UPDATED: Gordie Ernst Charged in Federal Corruption Scheme — URI Tennis Coach & RI Star

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


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Ernst indicted by Feds

A federal corruption case named URI Tennis Coach Gordie Ernst and nearly 50 other people, including Hollywood stars, wealthy business leaders and coaches at top American universities, with paying or accepting bribes to admit student applicants.

Ernst had previously been the tennis coach at Georgetown University where it is believed the violations occurred. He was both the men's and women's coach and gave lessons to President Barack Obama's family.

“Defendant GORDON ERNST ("ERNST") was a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland and Falmouth, Massachusetts. Until January 2018, ERNST was employed as the head coach of men's and women's tennis at Georgetown University.

According to court documents, “Between 2012 and 2018, Singer paid ERNST bribes, falsely labeled as "consulting" fees, totaling more than $2.7 million. Singer typically made the payments from one of the KWF charitable accounts and sent them to ERNST via U.S. Mail, including in at least one instance to ERNST's residence in Falmouth, Massachusetts. In exchange for the bribes, ERNST designated at least 12 applicants as recruits for the Georgetown tennis team, including some who did not play tennis competitively, thereby facilitating their admission to Georgetown.”

William Rick Singer ran the charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, which received $25 million in total to guarantee the admissions, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said during a Tuesday news conference. The charitable foundation was allegedly used as a front to run the scam.

The indictment says, “For example, on or about August 19, 2015, at Singer's instruction, Georgetown Applicant 1 forwarded to ERNST an email Singer had drafted on his behalf. The email contained falsified information concerning Georgetown Applicant 1 's purported tennis abilities. In fact, Georgetown Applicant 1 did not play competitive tennis. ERNST forwarded the email to a Georgetown admissions officer.

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On or about August 21, 2015, ERNST wrote to the same admissions officer to "confirm my usage of three spots" ERNST had been allocated for student admissions to Georgetown, as part of the tennis recruitment process.”

Further the documents allege, “ERNST allocated all three spots to the children of Singer's clients, including On or about April 22, 2016, MASERA sent an email to the parents of Georgetown Applicant 1 attaching an invoice in the amount of $400,000 for their purported "private contribution" to KWF.  On or about April 28, 2016, the parents of Georgetown Applicant 1 caused $400,000 to be sent to one of the KWF charitable accounts. Between approximately September 11, 2015 and August 29, 2016, ERNST received checks totaling $700,000 from one of the KWF charitable accounts. Between approximately September 11, 2015 and August 29, 2016, ERNST received checks totaling $700,000 from one of the KWF charitable accounts.

URI Role

In August, New England Tennis Hall of Famer Ernst was named as head coach of the Rhode Island women's tennis team, Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn.

"We are thrilled to have Gordie Ernst join the URI Athletics Family as our new Head Women's Tennis Coach," Bjorn said. "Gordie is highly regarded in the tennis community and has had terrific success throughout his career. I really like the fact that he is a native Rhode Islander looking to continue his career back in his home state."

"We were just notified of the indictment," said Linda Acciardo at URI when contacted at 12:10 PM on Tuesday. "We expect to have a response later today."

Ernsts in RI

Gordie Ernst was a decorated school boy athlete in Rhode Island.  His father was the legendary Dick Ernst.

Updated 12:47 PM Tuesday


Related Slideshow: Gordie Ernst Indictment - March 2019


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