CHAMPAIGN — Former Busey board member Elisabeth Meyer Kimmel pleaded not guilty to mail fraud and money laundering, the two charges she's facing in the college-admissions scandal.
Kimmel and several other parents waived their right to appear in court for their arraignments, when charges are formally brought against them and pleas are entered.
Kimmel's plea comes a week after she and 15 other parents were hit with a superseding indictment adding the money-laundering charge, which itself came a day after 13 parents agreed to plead guilty to a single charge.
Kimmel appeared last month at the federal courthouse in Boston for a hearing after she was arrested in California, where she has a home near San Diego.
She is accused of paying nearly $500,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, which prosecutors say was a phony organization that passed payments on to coaches and athletic directors at elite universities.
Kimmel, 54, allegedly paid $275,000 in 2013 to help her daughter get into Georgetown University as a purported tennis athlete and $200,000 in 2018 to help her son get into the University of Southern California as a purported pole vaulter.
Neither of her children played those sports in college, according to prosecutors, who allege her son was confused when an advisor asked about his status as a track athlete.
Many of the parents allegedly made similar payments, filing personal tax returns listing the payments as donations, according to prosecutors.
In Kimmel's case, she allegedly made the payments through her family's charity, the Meyer Charitable Foundation. She serves as its assistant secretary.
In her daughter's admission to Georgetown in 2013, Kimmel allegedly signed three checks to KWF from the Meyer Charitable Foundation — one for $100,000, another for $170,000 and a final one for $5,000.
After the first check, the foundation's accountant "sent a letter to the Meyer Charitable Foundation falsely confirming that 'no goods or services were exchanged' for the purported donation," prosecutors said.
In the case of Kimmel's son, prosecutors said the Meyer Charitable Foundation made a $50,000 donation to the USC Women's Athletics Board with a check signed by Greg Kimmel, and a $200,000 payment to KWF with a check signed by Elisabeth Kimmel.
The donations show up on the Meyer Charitable Foundation's publicly available tax forms and are marked as charitable donations.
Each of the charges Kimmel faces comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines up to twice the amount of the money laundered.
Two days after Kimmel was charged last month, she resigned from the First Busey board of directors, which she joined 11 months ago.
Kimmel was the second-largest First Busey shareholder on the board, which her dad, August "Chris" Meyer Jr., has served on since 1962.
The Meyer family ran Midwest Television, which owned WCIA-TV until 1999, and last year completed the $325 million sale of its San Diego TV and radio stations.