A California woman facing trial in the U.S. college admissions scandal said charges against her should be thrown out because she’d be risking her life if she took the witness stand.
Elisabeth Kimmel of La Jolla ended up in the hospital with a heart issue after heavily armed federal agents raided her home in March 2019. Her heart was pumping at 10% to 15% capacity and her existing aortic valve leak was exacerbated, according to her lawyer. She blames an excessive law enforcement response.
“The FBI agents who descended on her home seemed more prepared for a mass raid on a gang redoubt than for a single arrest at a family home in California,” Kimmel’s lawyer Robert Popeo said in a court filing Friday. He described Kimmel as a 54-year-old, 96-pound woman with a long history of coronary problems and no criminal history.
Kimmel is accused of paying almost $500,000 in bribes to get her children into college. To date, 30 parents have pleaded guilty; Kimmel is one of eight parents fighting the charges and is scheduled to go to trial in September. But if she’s to defend herself, she risks putting her life on the line, her lawyer said.
“She now faces a painful dilemma: testify in her own defense at trial and risk suffering another episode that could at best hospitalize her again, and at worst kill her; or decline to take the stand to protect her health and risk conviction by a jury that never gets to hear her side of the story,” Popeo wrote.
Kimmel asked for the indictment, which includes three counts of conspiracy, to be dismissed.
Prosecutors say Kimmel, the owner of a media company, paid William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind behind the college-cheating scam, to help her daughter get admitted to Georgetown as a purported tennis player and to later get her son into the University of Southern California as an alleged pole vaulter.
Kimmel also claims federal agents wouldn’t let her get any medical attention for more than three hours after her arrest. It was only after she was hospitalized and a cardiologist evaluated her did prosecutors agree to release her from FBI custody, according to her lawyer.
A spokeswoman for Nathaniel Mendell, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Massachusetts, declined to comment.
The case has ensnared dozens of parents, including actors like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and Doug Hodge, the former head of Pacific Investment Management Co.
Kimmel’s LinkedIn account says she is the owner of Midwest Television Inc.
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