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Money laundering charge added to case of indicted San Diego media executive

Photo: The Desk
Photo: The Desk

A California media executive with ties to a San Diego television station faced additional criminal charges on Tuesday for her alleged role in a broad college admissions cheating scandal.

Elisabeth Meyer-Kimmel of La Jolla was charged with one count of money laundering in a superseding indictment made public by federal prosecutors on Tuesday. Meyer-Kimmel was charged last month on suspicion of felony mail and wire fraud in connection with the same alleged crime.

Meyer-Kimmel is accused of participating in a scheme in which she allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to an education consulting firm in order to secure preferred placement for her son at the University of Southern California. The alleged scheme involved falsifying credentials and doctoring photos of her son to make it appear he was a top high school athlete in order to better his chances of admissions to U.S.C., federal prosecutors alleged last month.

In Tuesday’s indictment, Meyer-Kimmel was accused of funneling nearly $300,000 from a charitable fund established in the name of her father, August Meyer, the former owner of San Diego CBS station KFMB-TV (Channel 8). That money was later paid to an individual in monthly installments who was working with Key World Foundation, the education consulting company, prosecutors said.

Meyer-Kimmel facilitated the sale of KFMB-TV and two radio station properties to national broadcaster TEGNA for $325 million in late 2017.

Prosecutors also alleged for the first time on Tuesday that Meyer-Kimmel’s spouse, former San Diego Deputy District Attorney Gregory Kimmel, signed a check in the amount of $50,000 to the U.S.C. Women’s Athletics Board in October 2017. That money came from the same charitable foundation that Meyer-Kimmel tapped into for her own alleged payments to Key World Foundation, prosecutors said. Kimmel has not been charged in connection with the crime, and it was unclear if he would face charges in the future.

Along with Meyer-Kimmel, the indictment charged 15 other parents with money laundering counts, including “Full House” sitcom star Lori Laughlin.

The charges against Meyer-Kimmel drew intense public scrutiny from media organizations in both San Diego, where the Kimmels once worked, and Las Vegas where they now live. Overlooked was the extensive legal history and knowledge both had going into the alleged scheme, which could work against them as the case now pivots from the FBI to federal court.

Elisabeth Meyer-Kimmel was first admitted to the State Bar in 1990, according to legal records reviewed by The Desk. She worked as an entertainment lawyer for several years before climbing the corporate ladder at the company that owned KFMB until 2017. Her license was active throughout her career, first at the firm and then at the local media company, until this January when her license became inactive.

Gregory Kimmel’s license to practice was suspended by the California State Bar in 2007 for failure to pay unspecified fees; he was re-licensed in 2009 before his status returned to inactive one year later.

The State Bar says an “inactive” listing means an attorney has chosen the status voluntarily and may resume an active license after associated fees and other record-keeping processes are completed.

Though prosecutors suggested Meyer-Kimmel’s husband was generally aware of the college admissions scheme, he was not named in charging documents released by federal authorities on Tuesday and has not been accused of a crime. He currently works as an executive for Wireless Telematics, a lighting control company.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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