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San Diego TV executive among those indicted in college admissions scandal

A San Diego-area local television executive is among more than 50 people across the country to face felony criminal charges related to a widespread college admissions cheating scandal.

According to a criminal indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors on Tuesday, Elisabeth Kimmel of La Jolla, California was among those who participated in a scheme in which bribes were paid to college admissions officials, coaches and other education leaders in exchange for admissions to prestigious schools for their children.

Kimmel was described in the indictment as a president of a media company. The company was not named in the indictment, but The Desk has learned Kimmel served in an executive role for a company that owned San Diego CBS affiliate KFMB-TV (Channel 8). The station was family owned until 2017 when it was sold to Virginia-based broadcaster TEGNA for more than $300 million.

An altered photograph allegedly used to help Elisabeth Kimmel's son gain admissions to USC. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Justice
An altered photograph allegedly used to help Elisabeth Kimmel’s son Tommy gain admissions to USC. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Justice

According to a criminal complaint, Kimmel and her husband facilitated payments of over $500,000 to secure admissions for their two children to Georgetown University and the University of Southern California. The complaint said the schemes in which Kimmel and her husband allegedly participated involved recruiting their children to the schools based on false claims that their children were athletes.

The complaint says Kimmel wrote checks in excess of $500,000 that were later used to allegedly bribe coaches and other admissions officials at the schools. The checks came from the Meyer Charitable Foundation, a non-profit established by former KFMB station owner August Meyer, the indictment said.

Among other things, the scheme allegedly involved creating an athletic profile for Kimmel’s son, Thomas “Tommy” Kimmel, that falsely claimed he was a high school pole vaulter. The indictment says a photograph purporting to show Kimmel’s son pole-vaulting was altered from an image showing a different athlete. The profile was allegedly used to help Kimmel’s son clear certain key hurdles in USC’s admissions process for prospective school athletes.

Kimmel faces one felony count of mail fraud.

DOCUMENT: Read the charging document against Elisabeth Kimmel

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).